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Novitslxm Verba 



THE NEUMANN PRESS 









of Saint Therese 



The Last Conversations and Confidences of 
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus 

MAY-SEPTEMBER, 1897 

with Introduction by 
HIS EMINENCE 

FRANCIS CARDINAL SPELLMAN 

“Gather up the fragments . . . lest they be lost. ” 

(John 6:12) 


THE NEUMANN PRESS 

LONG PRAIRIE, MINNESOTA 





CUM PERMISSU SUPERIORUM 


nihil obstat: John M. A. Fearns, S.T.D. 

Censor Ubrorum 

imprimatur: Francis Cardinal Spellman 

Archbishop of New York 


New Yor\ 

Holy Name of Mary, 1952 


The nihil obstat and imprimatur are official declarations 
that a book or pamphlet is free of doctrinal and moral 
error. No implication is contained therein that those 
who have granted the nihil obstat and imprimatur agree 
with the contents, opinions or statements expressed. 


AUTHORIZED VERSION 


© 1998 New book design 
The Neumann Press 

ISBN 0-911845-72-0 


Printed and bound in the United States of America 
The Neumann Press, Long Prairie, Minnesota, USA 




Note 




These “confidences and conversations” of Saint 
Therese of the Child Jesus were recorded by Rev¬ 
erend Mother Agnes of Jesus* as she heard the 

* Mother Agnes was the sister of Saint Therese of the Child 
Jesus. As Pauline Martin, she entered the Carmel of Lisieux, 
France, on October 2, 1882, where she died on July 28, 1951, 
having filled the office of Prioress for more than fifty years. 
In October, 1886, the second Martin sister, Marie, entered the 
Carmel of Lisieux and after a life of heroic holiness, died there 
on January 20, 1940. On April 9, 1888, Therese Martin, who, 
according to the words of a Sovereign Pontiff, has become “the 
greatest saint of modern times,” joined her two sisters at the 
Carmel and died like a seraph on September 30, 1897. She was 
canonized on May 17, 1925. Leonie, the third oldest child, 
entered the Visitation Order in 1899. Although not favored by 
nature and grace in the same degree as were the other members 
of the family, she surmounted every obstacle to her vocation to 
the religious life (she had entered—and left—the Visitation 
Order more than once) and died as a worthy spiritual emulator 
of her sisters at the Visitation of Caen in June, 1944. 

Celine, the third youngest child of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Mar¬ 
tin, remained in the world until the death of her venerable 
father, and entered Carmel on September 14, 1894. At the 
present writing (August, 1952) she is the only surviving member 
of the family that has left its permanent mark on the spiritual 
growth of the Church of God. For St. Therese of the Child Jesus, 
her sister, restored to its exalted rank in the economy of sal¬ 
vation the Way of Spiritual Childhood, introduced by Jesus 
Christ Himself when He held up a little child as the exemplar to 

iii 










IV 


Note 


words uttered by the Saint herself. Committed to 
writing day by day, they were, for the most part, 
submitted to the Ecclesiastical Tribunal during 
the Process of Beatification and Canonization. 

Certain other well-known conversations Saint 
Therese had with other members of her commu¬ 
nity during this period but at which Mother Agnes 
was not present are not included in this volume. 

His Apostles. She has inscribed the Martin legend in the annals 
of the Catholic Church for time and eternity. 





Grand Seminaire de Bayeux, 
November io, 1926 

Dear Reverend Mother, 

The brief life of your holy little Sister, Therese 
of the Child Jesus, was marked by a constant as¬ 
cension toward the perfection of Divine Love. 
The nearer she approached to that final ecstasy 
which was to bear her into the arms of her ador¬ 
able Master, the more clearly did her words and 
actions give expression to the living perfection of 
her soul, and depict for us those lessons in true 
sanctity which it is her mission to pass on to pos¬ 
terity. As Elias, when quitting this world, left the 
plenitude of “his spirit” to his beloved disciple 
[Eliseus], so in these novissima verba has your 
holy little Sister, with loving and unaffected spon¬ 
taneity, bequeathed to us, in condensed form, all 
that was most exquisite in her relations with God. 
With what loving care did you not, as you took 
your station at her bedside, note down day by day 
and hour by hour, during her last months of agony, 
all she said and did! You did not omit the shortest 


v 






VI 


Preface 

syllable or overlook the least gesture which might 
reveal the dispositions of her heart. 

It is true that in the supplementary chapter of 
Histoire d’ane Ame* and also in the biographies 
of the Saint which have been prepared under your 
direction, you had already unfolded for us the 
general trend of the words and actions of Therese 
in her last days on earth. But in these publications 
you did not include the manifold details of this, 
your intimate Journal, which would have length¬ 
ened the narrative and disturbed the proportions 
of the works in question. Perhaps, too, you hesi¬ 
tated to divulge without further consideration the 
pages of a diary which you instinctively felt con¬ 
tained sacred confidences of a very intimate nature. 

But now you realize that the numerous souls 
whom your little Sister has conquered and guided 
in “her way” are eager to know her better. And 
you believe that the depths of her heart and the 
sincerity of her virtue will be more fully revealed 
by these words and actions of hers which were 
more spontaneously brought into play. Yes, this 
little book you have given us is a treasure, in truth 
the very testament of our dear Saint. We find 

* The definitive English edition of Histoire d’une Ame is 
Saint Therese of Lisieux: Autobiography (New York, P. J. 
Kenedy & Sons, 1927). 




Preface vii 

here her character more truly manifested than in 
any other record. Thank you for not having kept 
the treasure for yourself alone. 

Be pleased, Reverend Mother, to accept my hom¬ 
age and devoted sentiments in Our Lord. 

P. Th. Dubosq, Superior 
Vicar-General, Promoter of the Faith in the 
Process of the Canonization of 
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus 










Il 









Co7itents 




Translator s Note iii 

Preface v 

Introduction xi 

May i 

June 14 

July 26 

August 74 

September 121 

Appendix A 143 

Appendix B 150 



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Introduction 

NOVISSIMA VERBA are words spoken by Saint 
Therese during her long, last illness. Millions of 
souls throughout the world have read and have 
been inspired by these utterances and multitudes 
of searching hearts have learned through the Little 
Flower to tread the path which she herself identi¬ 
fies as her “little way.” But Saint Therese did not 
invent this “way.” It was Christ Who called Him¬ 
self “the way” and came to earth to teach it to all 
men by living it. From the days of the Apostles, 
Christians were known as the people “of This 
Way” and anyone essaying to walk this way be¬ 
came known as “little” even as Christ Himself 
was “meek and humble of heart.” Saint John the 
Baptist pointed out the relationship of holiness to 
littleness, saying, “He must increase but I must de¬ 
crease,” and so too did Saint Therese point out this 
same way of life to all who would seek and fol¬ 
low it. 

In the glowing tides of love and humility, the 
Little Flower abandoned self to God’s mercy, confi¬ 
dent that “he who has begun a good work” in her, 
would “bring it to perfection until the day of Christ 


xi 













xii Introduction 

Jesus.” Throughout this book we are ever reminded 
that self-love is the only obstacle to growth in di¬ 
vine love. And Saint Therese’s urgings to be ac¬ 
cepted as “little” established her as a sister in spirit 
to the shining galaxy of spiritual giants who, down 
through the centuries, have blazed the trail for 
souls in quest of perfection. She was cloistered for 
nine years and died at the age of twenty-four. Yet 
despite her short life, she ranges on the same high 
plane with Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, 
Paul of Tarsus, Augustine of Hippo, Francis of 
Assisi, and John of the Cross. 

Saint Therese is close to the Poor Man of Assisi, 
exemplar of universal brotherhood. Like him, she 
preached the deathless Gospel of Love by living for 
others. Like him, the Little Flower felt close in 
heart to man, beast, and flower. Like him, by mak¬ 
ing herself poor, divine Love made her rich. But 
Saint Therese’s most endearing virtue was her un¬ 
shakable confidence in God’s mercy. 

This new edition of novissima verba should be 
of great spiritual assistance coming at this fateful 
hour in history when mounting miseries and sor¬ 
rows and tragedies of men are testing even the 
faith of believers in the compassion of our Heav¬ 
enly Father. But if mankind needs a sign that God 
is in His Heaven it is not because of His lack of 



Introduction 


xiii 

love for us, but rather because of our own meager 
measure of devotion to Him. And Saint Therese, 
Patroness of Confidence, is God’s sign of love to 
multitudes of “little” souls suffering through man’s 
unbelievable inhumanity to man. 

Why do men refuse to follow “the way” of Spirit¬ 
ual Childhood, the way Christ taught us? Saint 
Therese walked that way and God wills that the 
whole world walk that selfsame way. The Church 
in proclaiming Saint Therese Patroness of Russia, 
committed to her care a tremendous mission. But, 
the Little Flower has a mission to achieve not alone 
for one nation, but for all nations—the sacred 
charge to bring children back to God, and all men 
are God’s children. By devout, daily prayers and 
sacrifices of legions of “little souls,” and through 
the intercession of Saint Therese, the gates of grace 
will open, converting a faithless, warring, misery¬ 
laden world into a world of faith and happiness 
and peace! 

O Blessed Prince of Peace! 

We adore Thee, 

We love Thee, 

We praise Thee. 

In this hour of dreadful need 
We implore Thee, dear Jesus— save us! 









XIV 


Introduction 


Crimsoned war clouds gather once again about 
To rain down ruin, blood, and death. 

Save us or we perish from the earth; 

Save us by Thy love for mankind, 

By Thy love for Thy Church, 

By Thy love for souls, 

Save us, for we cannot save ourselves! 

By Thy pierced heart, save us! 

Make our hearts one with Thine, 

That our will may be Thy will, 

Thy divine love, our love, 

That we may make reparation for the sins of 
world, 

Thus to avert the wrath of Thy justice 
Upon a wilful, sinful world, 

A world that has defied Thy laws, 

Mocked Thy love, 

And taken unto itself strange gods. 

By Thy Sacred Wounds, O Jesus, save us! 

Heal Thou the wounds of a world now dying, 
A world crucified on its cross of sin, 

By wounds of anarchy and atheism, 

Despotism and slavery, fear and greed, 

Wounds of disease, desolation, and death. 

Pour into the soul of this stricken world, O God, 
The oil and wine of Thy mercy and truth. 



Introduction 


xv 


By Thy thorn-crowned head, O Jesus, save us! 
Make the light of Thy holy mind 
Shine into the minds of men, 

Dispelling distrust and deceit, 

Inspiring them with the purposes of Thy will, 
That by common council and consent, 

Mutual understanding and co-operation, 

Men may build through Thee 
Enduring and universal peace, 

A peace which man alone cannot find, 

The peace which God alone can give. 

O Blessed Prince of Peace, 

Who rulest by love and love alone, 

We consecrate ourselves to Thy Sacred Heart. 
With faith and hope and love, 

We follow Thee, O Jesus, and beg Thee, 

Reign in the kingdom of our hearts, 

And grant, that through Thy Church, 

Men may learn to live, 

In happiness and liberty and peace. Amen. 

Francis Cardinal Spellman 
Holy Name of Mary, 1932 


















MAY I, 1897 

“My heart is filled to the brim with the joy of 
heaven today. . . . Last evening I prayed so much 
to the Blessed Virgin, while reflecting that her 
beautiful month was about to commence.” 


MAY 9, 1897 

In reference to the sentiments we sometimes experience 
when, having rendered a service, we receive not the 
slightest sign of thanks, the Saint remarked: 

“I assure you, I, too, experience those same senti¬ 
ments; but I am never disillusioned for I am not 
looking for any reward on earth. I perform all 
my actions for God alone and, in this way, there 
is nothing lost, and I am always well repaid for 
the trouble I have taken to serve my neighbor.” 


MAY 15, 1897 

“I really do not see what additional benefit I shall 
enjoy after my death that I do not possess now. 
. . . It is true, after death I shall see God, but 







2 


Novissima Verba 


as for being united with Him—well, that favor I 
already enjoy upon earth.” 

“How happy I am that I am going to heaven 
soon! But when I ponder on those words of Our 
Lord: ‘Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is 
with me to render to everyman according to his 
works/ 1 I think to myself He will be very much 
embarrassed with me, because I have no works! 
He will be unable, then, to render to me according 
to my wor\s . . . . Oh, well! I am confident He 
will render to me, therefore, according to His 
own works.” 

“If, by an impossibility, God Himself did not 
perceive my good actions, I should not be troubled 
on that score. I love Him so much that I would 
want to be able to make Him happy by my love 
and by my little sacrifices, without His realizing 
even that! Since He sees and knows, He is, so to 
speak, obliged to give me a recompense . . . and 
I should like to spare Him the trouble!” 


(&***<•> 


1 ApOC. 22112. 







Novissima Verba 


3 

“I should like ro be sent to the Carmel of Hanoi 
in order to suffer much for God; my desire to go 
there, if I were cured, springs from a yearning to 
be all alone, and to have no consolation, no joy 
upon earth. ... I know well that God has no 
need of our works, and I am sure I should be of 
no service there; but I would suffer and I would 
love. It is that which counts in His Eyes.” 

I mentioned the different practices of devotion or means 
to reach perfection which are counseled by certain spirit¬ 
ual authors and which discourage many souls. 

“As for me,” she answered, “with the exception 
of the Gospels, I find nothing much in books any 
more. The Gospel is sufficient for me. I listen with 
delight to those words of Jesus where He teaches 
me all I have to do: ‘Learn of me, because I am 
meek, and humble of heart!’ 2 That sentence gives 
me peace according to His promise: ‘And you 
shall find rest to your souls.’ ” 

She had been given a new habit (the one which has 
been preserved) and she wore it for the first time for 


2 Matt. 11:29. 








Novissima Verba 


4 

Christmas, 1896. It was the second habit she had re¬ 
ceived since her Clothing. It did not fit her at all, and 
I asked her if this caused her any annoyance. 

“Not a shadow! no more than if it were the 
habit of a Chinese 2000 leagues away from us/ 5 
she replied. 

About the novices: 

“I throw to my little birds, on the right hand 
and on the left, the good grain God puts into my 
hands. And then, let come what will! I am no 
longer anxious or concerned. Sometimes, it seems 
as though I had thrown nothing; at other moments 
it does some good. But the good God says to me: 
‘Give, give always, and do not concern yourself 
about the result. 5 55 

0^**0 

MAY l8, 1897 

“On being discharged from all my duties, I 
have been impressed by the thought that my death 
will not cause the least inconvenience in the com¬ 
munity. 55 

I said to her: “Do you not feel sad, then, to appear 
before your sisters as a useless member?” 

. . Oh! no, that is the least of my anxie- 

N 

UCS. . . . 


Novissima Verba 


5 

Seeing how ill she was, I had attempted to obtain a 
dispensation for her from the Office of the Dead which 
is prescribed by our Constitutions on the death of each 
sister of our Order. 

Referring to this, she said to me: 

“I beg you not to have me dispensed from the 
Office of the Dead; it is all I can do for the souls 
of our sisters who may be in purgatory.” 


I expressed my surprise over the fact that she never 
remained idle, notwithstanding her weakened condition. 
She answered: 

“I simply must have some work on hand; in 
this way, I am not preoccupied with self and never 
lose my time.” 

“Ah! how often I asked God in the past to allow 
me to follow the exercises of the community until 
my death! But He has not willed to hear me! It 
seems to me, however, if I had been allowed to 
follow them all, I should not have died one minute 
sooner. I think, too, sometimes, if I had not said 
anything, no one would have supposed I was sick.” 

MAY 19, 1897 

“Why are you so merry today?” I inquired. 

The Saint answered: 







6 


Novissima Verba 


. . Because this morning I have had two little 
pains which were very intense. . . . Nothing gives 
me a little joy so much as a little pain. . . 

MAY 20 , 1897 

“Someone has said I shall fear death; that may 
well be. If you only knew how slight is my self- 
assurance! I never depend much on my own 
thoughts; I know only too well how weak I am, 
but I want to rejoice at the sentiments God is al¬ 
lowing me to experience now. There will always 
be time enough to suffer the contrary.” 

I showed her one of her photographs. 

“Yes,” she smiled, “but . . . that is the envelope. 
When shall we see the letter? . . . Oh! how I 
should like to see that letter!” 

FROM MAY 21 TO MAY 26, 1897 

“I know I am going to die soon. When? . . . 
That I do not know. I am like a child who is 
always being promised a cake. They show it to 
him from afar . . . then when he approaches 
to take it, they draw it back! . . . But I am en¬ 
tirely abandoned either to live or to die. If God 



Novissima Verba 


7 

so wills it, however, I should be happy to recover 
and go to Cochin-China.” 


“After my death, do not place wreaths on my 
coffin as was done for Mother Genevieve 3 but ask 
that the money which would have been spent on 
them be used, rather, to ransom some poor little 
Negroes from slavery. Say that this it is which will 
give me pleasure. I should like a little Theophane 
and a little Marie-Therese.” 

“At one time, I was much distressed on being 
obliged to take expensive remedies, but at present 
I am not disturbed at all. Quite the opposite is the 
case because I read that Saint Gertrude rejoiced 
in thinking all would be for the advantage of 
those who made the gifts. She applied to them 
those words of our Saviour: ‘As long as you did 
it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to 
me/ ” 4 


3 Reverend Mother Genevieve of Saint Teresa, foundress of 
the Carmel of Lisieux. 

4 Matt. 25:40. 







8 


Novissima Verba 


“I am convinced of the uselessness of remedies 
to cure me, but I have made a compact with the 
good God that they shall profit, instead, some poor 
missionaries who have neither time nor means to 
take care of themselves. I ask Him to use all the 
care that is bestowed on me to cure them instead.” 


“It has been frequently said that I have courage, 
and how often have I not pondered to myself that 
such is not the case. But after all, I mused, it will 
not do to have people telling an untruth, so I set 
myself, with the help of grace, to acquire some 
courage. I am like a warrior who, having been 
congratulated on his bravery, and knowing full 
well he is little else than a coward, ends by becom¬ 
ing ashamed of undeserved compliments, and sets 
out to merit them.” 

“I much prefer to remain in our cell rather than 
going down to the infirmary. Here in our cell, no 
one hears me cough, and I do not disturb anyone. 
Moreover, when I am too well cared for, I am no 
longer able to rejoice,” 

“The Holy Innocents are not infants in heaven, 
they only have the indefinable charms of child- 



Novissima Verba 9 

hood. They are represented as children merely 
because we have need of images to comprehend 
invisible things. ... Yes, and I am hoping very 
soon to go to join them myself.” 

“If I had not had this trial of soul, these temp¬ 
tations against faith which defy description, I 
truly believe I should die of joy at the thought of 
quitting this world so soon.” 

MAY 27, 1897 

“It will please me to have a Circular. 5 I do not 
quite understand why some sisters ask not to have 
one. It is sweet to become acquainted with one 
another and to have a better knowledge of those 
with whom we shall live together eternally.” 

We spoke together of her childhood, and I reminded 
her of this remark my mother made when I was a pupil 
at the Visitation of Le Mans: “I know nothing so inter¬ 
ests you as to have some details of your little sisters, 
Celine and Therese; but I rack my brains to try to find 
something new to say, and it is sometimes rather difficult.” 

5 After the death of each religious, many Carmels send to 
all monasteries of the Order a biographical notice in the form 
of a circular letter. 










io Novissima Verba 

“I am sure,” I added, “Mama magnified and some¬ 
times exaggerated your faults in order to have something 
interesting to write.” Therese answered me quite simply: 

I think very likely you are right; it is true, even 
before the age of three, it was not necessary to 
chide much in order to correct me. A single word 
spoken with sweetness was sufficient then, and has 
been sufficient all my life, to make me understand 
and repent of my faults.” 

MAY 28 , 1897 

“I have no fear of the last combats, nor of the 
sufferings, however great they may prove to be, 
of my sickness. God has helped me and has held 
me by the hand from my childhood’s tenderest 
years, and now I count on His aid. I am sure He 
will continue to help me to the end. I know well 
that I may suffer very much, but never too much; 
of that I am certain ” 

I said to her: “There is an aged sister in the Com¬ 
munity who thinks a long life of fidelity in the service 
of God is always more meritorious and more profitable 
to souls than one consummated in a short time.” She 
answered: 

. . Oh! I do not share her opinion. Did you 
notice during the reading in the Refectory the 



Novtssima Verba 


ii 


letter addressed to the mother of St. Aloysius 
Gonzaga, wherein it is remarked he would not 
have become more learned or more holy even had 
he lived to the age of Noah?” 


“Last year, toward the month of November, 
when my departure for Tonkin was projected, do 
you recall that, so as to have an indication of God’s 
Will, a novena to Theophane Venard was begun? 
At the time, I was following all the exercises of the 
community, and I was even assisting at Matins. 
Well! It was precisely during that novena I com¬ 
menced to cough again, and ever since, my health 
has gone from bad to worse. It was he, then, who 
called me. Oh! how much I should like to have 
his portrait! His is a soul I truly love. . . . There 
are some young saints who are shown to us as 
being so serious, even during recreation time, but 
as for him, he was always light-hearted and gay.” 


“I do not desire more ardently to die than to 
live. I let the good God choose for me. It is what 
He does that I love.” 








12 


Novissima Verba 


“Do not think that if I am cured it will embar¬ 
rass me and upset my plans. Not at all! Age is 
nothing in the sight of God, and I shall so order 
myself as always to remain a little child even if I 
am to live a very long time.” 


“I always see the bright side of things. Some 
take everything in such a way as to make the 
worst of things. It is just the contrary in my case. 
If there is nothing but pure suffering, if the heavens 
are so black that I cannot see anything clearly, 
very well! I make my joy consist precisely in that.” 

MAY 29, 1897 

She had been suffering very much. I took up the holy 
Gospels to read a passage to her, and my eyes fell upon 
these words: “He is risen: he is not here. Behold the 
place where they laid him.” 6 She said: 

“Yes, it is indeed like that in my case, too; I am 
no longer, as I used to be in my childhood, a prey 
to every sorrow. I have been raised up, I am no 
longer in the place where I once was. Mother, 
you need not be anxious about me any more; I 
have reached that point where I cannot suffer 


9 Mark 16:6. 




Novissima Verba 13 

more, because all suffering has become sweet to 
me.” 

MAY 30, 1897 

I said to her: “Perhaps you will suffer very much be¬ 
fore you die.” She answered: 

. . Oh, do not let that trouble you; I have a 
great desire to suffer much.” 






June 

JUNE 4, 1897 

She had taken her last farewell of us (her three sisters) 
and she now seemed to be transfigured and to suffer no 
longer. She exclaimed: 

“I asked the Blessed Virgin not to let me be so 
exhausted and abstracted as I had been these last 
days. I knew very well that my condition was 
distressing you. And today, Our Lady has heard 
me. Oh! my little sisters, how happy I am! I see 
I am going to die soon! I am sure of it now. 

“Do not be surprised if I do not appear to you 
after my death or if you do not receive any extraor¬ 
dinary sign of my happiness. You must remember 
it is the spirit of my little way to wish to see noth¬ 
ing. You well know how many times I have said 
to the good God, to the angels and saints: 

“That not a desire have I 
To see them beneath the sky.” 

Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face said to her: “The 
angels will come to fetch you.” Therese replied: 

“I do not believe you will behold them, but that 
will be no hindrance to their being there. I should 

U 







Novissima Verba 


!5 

like to have a beautiful death just to give you 
pleasure. I have asked this of the Blessed Virgin. 
To ask something of the Blessed Virgin is not the 
same as to ask something of the good God. She 
knows well what to do with my little desires, and 
it is for her to decide whether to ask for them or 
not. . . . After all, it is up to her not to force the 
good God to hear me, but to leave all to His Will. 

. . I do not know if I am to go to purgatory: 
I am not in the least troubled about that. But if 
I do go, I shall not regret having done nothing 
to avoid it: I shall never repent of having labored 
wholly for the salvation of souls. How happy I 
was when I learned our Mother, St. Teresa, had 
felt the same way about it. 

“Do not be troubled if I suffer much, and if, 
as I said before, you see in me no sign of happi¬ 
ness at the moment of my death. . . . Our Lord 
died a Victim of Love indeed, and you know well 
how great was His agony.” 

0**^0 

That same day in the afternoon, as I saw that she was 
suffering much, I said to her: “Ah, well! You have de¬ 
sired to suffer, and God has not forgotten you.” 

. . I have desired to suffer and I have been 
heard. I have suffered much these days. . . . One 
morning during my thanksgiving, I experienced 



16 Novissima Verba 

the very agonies of death, and that without one 
scrap of consolation!” 

“I accept all for the love of God, even the most 
extravagant thoughts that come to my mind and 
intrude themselves upon me.” 

JUNE 5, 1897 

“If you should find me dead some morning, do 
not be in the least disturbed; it will only mean 
that papa le bon Dieu has come to fetch me. With¬ 
out doubt it is a great grace to receive the Sacra¬ 
ments, but when it does not please God to grant 
this favor, that is equally a grace. . . . Everything 
is a grace.” 

“I thank you for having asked that I may be 
given only a particle of the Sacred Host. I had 
great difficulty in swallowing even that. But how 
happy I was to have the good God in my heart! 
I wept then as I wept on the day of my First 
Communion.” 

“See how little consolation is given me regard¬ 
ing my temptations against faith! The chaplain 




Novissima Verba 


*7 

said to me today: ‘Do not dwell upon them for 
they are very dangerous.’ 

“Then he said to me: ‘Are you quite resigned 
to die?’ 

“I answered him: ‘Ah, Father, I find that I need 
rather to be resigned to live. I experience, on the 
other hand, only joy at the thought of death.’ 

“In my childhood the great events of my life 
appeared to me to be far off, as inaccessible as the 
mountains. When I saw the little girls make their 
First Communion I said to myself: ‘How shall I 
make my First Communion?’ . . . Later on:‘How 
shall I enter Carmel?’ . . . And then . . . ‘How 
shall I receive the habit, and when shall I make 
my Profession? . . .’ Now I say the same thing 
about dying.” 

JUNE 7, 1897 

She went for a walk in the garden, while I supported 
her. On returning, she stopped to look at a little white 
hen sheltering its little ones beneath its wings. Her eyes 
then filled with tears. 

“You are crying?” I asked. 

She answered: 

“I cannot speak now as I am too deeply moved.” 

Later, with a heavenly expression on her face, she 
confided to me: 




i8 


Novissima Verba 


“I wept thinking that God has chosen to give 
this comparison, in the Gospel, to make us under¬ 
stand His tenderness. All my life He has done 
that for me, He has covered me entirely with His 
wings. I am so deeply moved I cannot contain my¬ 
self, my heart is overflowing with love and thank¬ 
fulness. Ah! God has done exceedingly well to 
hide Himself from me and to show me but rarely, 
and as if ‘through the lattices,’ 1 the effects of His 
mercy. . . ” 

In showing me the picture of Our Lady of Victories to 
which she had attached the little white flower of which 
she speaks in her Autobiography, she said to me with 
emotion: 

“It is ten years ago today that Papa gave me that 
little white flower, when I spoke to him the first 
time about my vocation. . . ” 


JUNE 9, 1897 

On the second anniversary of her Offering of herself 
to God’s all-merciful Love, she exclaimed: 

“How happy I am today!” 

“Has the trial of your soul passed then?” I asked. 


1 Cant. 2:9. 









Novissima Verba 19 

• . . No, but it seems as if something was sus¬ 
pended; the hateful serpents no longer hiss in my 
ears,” she answered. 


She confided to me: 

“I remain in great peace when I hear the nuns 
say that I am getting better! Last week, when I was 
able to stand up, they judged me, nevertheless, to 
be very ill. This week, on the other hand, when I 
cannot even support myself alone, they believe me 
to be on the road to recovery! But what does it 
matter what they say?” 

“Do you still expect, then, to die very soon?” I in¬ 
quired. 

“Yes,” she answered, “I expect to go very soon; 
certainly I am not getting better. My side aches 
very much. However, I always say: even if God 
cures me I shall not have been under any illusion. 

“It is said in the Gospel that the good God will 
come as a thief. So, He is coming soon to steal 
me! I am so anxious to assist Him in every way!” 

Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart (her eldest sister) said 
to her: “How sad we shall be after your death!” 

. . Oh, no! you will see that it will be like 








20 Novissima Verba 

a shower of roses,” she replied. ‘‘Yes, l shall send 
down a shower of roses.” 

“I am like a little child at the railway station 
who is waiting for his father and mother to put 
him into the train. Alas, they do not come, and the 
train departs! But there are others, and I shall 
not miss them all. . . .” 


june io, 1897 

“I very often ask the Blessed Virgin to tell the 
good God that He does not have to inconvenience 
Himself on my account. . . . She will take care 
of my commissions. I no longer understand any¬ 
thing about my illness, however. Imagine—at pres¬ 
ent I am improving in health! But, I abandon 
myself—and then I am happy. What would be¬ 
come of me if I cherished the hope of dying soon? 
What disappointment! But I do not have any be¬ 
cause I am happy with whatever the good God 
sends and I desire only His will.” 

©*** © 

JUNE 14, 1897 

“From moment to moment we can bear so 
much.” 









Novissima Verba 


21 


JUNE 15, 1897 

“On the 9th I was able to see clearly afar off the 
lighthouse which showed me the harbor of heaven, 
but now I see nothing; I am like someone whose 
eyes are blindfolded. Whatever anyone says to me 
about my approaching death no longer makes any 
impression on me. God, without doubt, does not 
will I should think about my death in the same 
way I thought about it before my illness. At that 
time the thought was very necessary and profitable 
to me, of that I am certain. But today it is the 
contrary; He wills me so to abandon myself as to 
be altogether like a little child who is not disturbed 
by whatever is done with him.” 


I asked her: “Are you wearied on seeing your life is 
prolonged and there is so much to suffer?” 

“. . . To suffer! But that pleases me!” she cried. 
“Why?” I inquired. 

. . Because that is what is pleasing to God.” 


“I am so happy. It seems to me I have not of¬ 
fended God at all during my sickness. Recently, 







22 


Novissima Verba 


when I was writing about charity, 2 the sisters used 
to come to me and I was frequently interrupted. 
I tried not to show the least impatience, so as to 
be the first to put into practice that about which 
I was writing.” 

JUNE 22 , 1897 

She was in the garden in an invalid s wheel chair, and, 
when I came to her in the afternoon, she said to me: 

“How well I understand those words of our 
Saviour to our Holy Mother, St. Teresa: ‘Do you 
know, My daughter, those who truly love Me? 
They are those who recognize that all which is not 
related to Me is nought but illusion.’ Oh! how 
true it is! Yes, all beside God is altogether vanity.” 


june 23, 1897 

I said to her: “Alas! I shall have nothing to give God 
at my death; I shall have empty hands, and that makes 
me very sad.” 

She answered: 

“Well, indeed! You are not like me, and yet I 
am in the same state. All the same, if I should 
have accomplished all the works of St. Paul, I 
should still consider myself an ‘unprofitable serv- 


2 In the Autobiography. 





Novissima Verba 


2 3 

ant.’ 3 I should find that I had empty hands; but 
it is precisely that which gives me joy, for, having 
nothing, I shall receive everything from God ” 


<•>***$ 

JUNE 25, 1897 

She showed me in the Annals of the Propagation of 
the Faith a passage where there is mention of the appari¬ 
tion of a saint clothed in white at the side of a newly 
baptized child, and she said to me: 

“Later on I shall be standing like that beside 
the little baptized infants. . . 


JUNE 26, 1897 

“How painful my side was yesterday! And be¬ 
hold today the pain has passed away! Ah! when 
shall I go to be with the good God! How much 
I should like to go to heaven!” 

JUNE 29, 1897 

“How unhappy I should be in heaven, if I could 
not provide little pleasures for those I love on 
earth!” 


Luke 17:10. 








24 Novissima Verba 

In the evening she was suffering much from her trial 
of temptation against faith. Moreover, certain reflections 
made to her had caused her pain. She said to me: 

“My soul is an exile indeed, heaven is shut 
against me, and from the side of earth there are 
trials also. 

. . I know very well that they do not believe 
I am very ill, but it is the good God who permits 
this. . . ” 

“I shall be pleased in heaven if you compose 
some pretty verses for me. It seems to me that it 
gives pleasure to the saints when we celebrate 
their praises, because in honoring them, we honor 
God.” 

JUNE 30, 1897 

I spoke to her of those saints who, like St. Simeon 
Stylites, had extraordinary lives. She said to me: 

“Ah! without doubt all that is very admirable, 
but I prefer those saints who, by their abandon¬ 
ment to God, have triumphed over all disquietude, 
like St. Cecilia, who went on to her marriage and 
was without any fear all the same. . . .” 






Novissima Verba 


25 

Referring to a visit in the parlor, where according to her 
habit she had said almost nothing, leaving her sisters 
to do the talking, she remarked: 

“How timid I was this afternoon in the parlor! 
And yet almost directly afterward I very severely 
reprehended a novice; I really did not recognize 
myself! What contrasts there are in my character! 

. . . My timidity springs from an extreme uneasi¬ 
ness I experience when people concern themselves 
about me.” 









July 

JULY 3, 1897 

I confided to her my thoughts of sadness and discour¬ 
agement after a fault with which I reproached myself. 

. . As for me, I never allow myself to be dis¬ 
couraged. When I commit a fault that makes me 
sad, I know well the sadness is the consequence 
of my unfaithfulness. But do you think that I 
rest there? Oh, no! Straightway I hasten to say 
to God: ‘My God, I know that I have deserved 
this feeling of sadness I experience; meanwhile 
let me offer it to You all the same as an ordeal 
You have sent me—through love. I am sorry for 
what I have done, but I am glad to have this suf¬ 
fering to offer to You.’ ” 

She had been much grieved on a certain occasion and 
to distract her thoughts she asked with great sweetness: 

“I have need of some nourishment for my soul. 
Read me something from the life of a saint.” 

“Would you like the life of St. Francis of Assisi?” 
I asked. “That would please you; he speaks of flowers 
and little birds!” 




26 




Nouissima Verba 


27 

“No, not for that . . . but rather to have ex¬ 
amples of humility,” she answered seriously. 


With a joyous resignation she exclaimed: 

“Even the saints have abandoned me. I asked 
St. Anthony during Matins to help me to find the 
handkerchief I had lost. Do you think he heard 
me? Of course not! But that is nothing, and I 
told him I loved him just the same.” 

JULY 4, 1897 

“Our Lord died on the cross in the midst of 
anguish, and there, nevertheless, was the most 
glorious death of love the world has ever seen! 
To die of love, that is not to die in transports. 
. . . I tell you quite frankly it seems to me I am 
undergoing a similar experience.” 


JULY 5, 1897 

I spoke to her of my imperfections. She replied: 

“It happens to me often enough also to fail thus, 
but I am never astonished at it. I am not always 
able to put aside the nothings of earth as promptly 
as I would wish; for example, I am tempted to 



28 


Novissima Verba 


feel disquieted over some silly thing I might have 
said or done. Then I enter into myself and say: 
‘Alas, I am once more at the first step as before!’ 
But this I say in great peace, without sadness. It 
is so sweet to feel oneself to be little and weak.” 

“Do not feel sad at seeing me so ill, Little 
Mother, for you see how happy the good God 
makes me. I am always cheerful and contented.” 


JULY 6, 1897 

She was coughing and hemorrhaging, and I said to 
her: ‘‘Do you think you are going to leave us, then?” 

Si if answered: 

“Oh, no! . . . The chaplain said to me: ‘You 
will have to make a great sacrifice in leaving your 
sisters,’ and I replied: ‘Father, I do not think I am 
really leaving them for I shall be much nearer them 
after my death.’ ” 

“Just as I have been obliged to practice patience 
while awaiting all the other great events of my 
life, so is it now in my expectation of death. I 
entered Carmel young, and yet, after all had been 




Novissima Verba 


29 

decided, it happened that there was a three months’ 
delay; for receiving the habit there was a similar 
delay; for my profession, another postponement! 
Very well, for my death it will be the same: it 
will come in good time, but I must await it a 
little longer.” 

“I am making very many little sacrifices.” 


I said to her: “It is quite evident that you are very 
happy today because you have had a hemorrhage and 
believe the Divine Thief is in sight.” 

. . Ah! even though I should not see Him, 
I love Him so much that I am always pleased 
with whatever He does,” she answered sweetly. 
“I will not love Him less if He fails to come to 
steal me away—quite the contrary. When He ap¬ 
pears to have deceived me, I make Him all sorts 
of compliments, so that really He does not know 
what to do with me.” 

“I read this beautiful passage in the Reflections 
on the Imitation of Christ : ‘Our Lord in the Gar¬ 
den of Olives enjoyed all the delights of the Blessed 
Trinity, yet His agony was nonetheless cruel.’ 




3 ° Novissima Verba 

That is a mystery, but I assure you that I under¬ 
stand something of it, through that which I am 
experiencing myself.” 

“I have often noticed that experience of suffer¬ 
ing makes us kind and indulgent toward others 
because it is suffering that draws us near to God.” 




I was burning a lamp in honor of Our Lady, asking 
that the hemorrhaging might cease. Therese sweetly 
chided: 

' You are not happy then that I am dying! As 
for me, I rejoice that the hemoptysis is continuing. 
However, it is over for today!” 


“When will the Last Judgment come? . . . Oh! 
how I wish it could be at this very moment! . . . 
. . and then, what will follow?” 


JULY 7, 1897 

She had a fresh hemorrhage, and later confided to me: 
I am going to see the good God very soon!” 

“Now that death is so near, have you any fear of it?” 
I asked. 





Novissima Verba 


3 1 

u . . . Ah! less and less,” she answered reassur- 
ingly. 

“Haven’t you any fear of the Thief, now that He is 
at the door?” I queried. 

. . No, He is not at the door,” she replied, 
in a cheerful tone. “He has actually come in! But 
what are you asking me, Little Mother? Have I 
any fear of the Thief? How could I be afraid of 
the One I love so much!” 


“Those words: ‘Although he should kill me, I 
will trust in him,’ 1 have fascinated me ever since 
childhood. But it took me a long time to become 
established in that degree of abandonment. Now 
I am there, however. The good God just took me 
in His Arms and placed me there!” 


I tried to persuade her to say a few words of edifica¬ 
tion to the community physician, but all to no avail. 

“Ah! Mother!” she sighed, “that is not my way 
at all. Monsieur de Corniere [the physician’s name] 
will have to think what he will: I love nothing 
so much as simplicity. I have a horror of all that 


1 Job 13:15. 





Novissima Verba 


3 2 

is opposed to it, and, I assure you, to do what you 
ask would be a fault on my part.” 


I asked her again about the grace she had received after 
her Offering to the all-merciful Love of God. . . . She 
prefaced her remarks with: 

“Little Mother, I told you all about it on the 
day itself, but you paid no attention. . . ” 

(That was true. Exteriorly, I had attached no import- 
tance to it at all, and Therese never introduced the sub¬ 
ject with me again.) 

“Well,” she confided, “I was commencing the 
Stations of the Cross in the Choir that day when, 
suddenly, I felt that I had been wounded by a 
dart of fire so ardent that death must be near. I 
have no words to describe it; it was as though an 
invisible hand had plunged me wholly into fire. 
And such fire! Yet, at the same time, what sweet¬ 
ness! I was burning up with love, and was con¬ 
vinced that to withstand such an onslaught of love 
for one minute, nay, for even one second more, 
was impossible; death must certainly ensue. It 
was an experimental knowledge of those states 
described by the saints, and which some of them 
had so frequently experienced. But such a grace 




Novissima Verba 


33 

was mine only once—and, even then, for one in¬ 
stant only. Almost immediately after, I fell back 
into my habitual state of aridity/’ 

Later she added: 

“It is true that from the age of fourteen on I had 
experienced some other assaults of love, and in 
those states I did, indeed, love God in an extraor¬ 
dinary way. But such assaults were nothing when 
compared with that grace accompanying my Offer¬ 
ing to God’s merciful Love, when actually I felt 
myself enveloped by a veritable flame.” 

JULY 8, 1897 

She was very sick, and we spoke of giving her Ex¬ 
treme Unction. ... In the evening, when she was brought 
down to the Infirmary, she exclaimed joyfully: 

“I fear only one thing—that all this may change.” 

Looking at her emaciated hands, she said: 

“I have already become a skeleton. But this reali¬ 
zation makes me very happy.” 

“Yes, indeed, I shall weep for joy and love when 
going to meet the good God. . . . But, then, are 









Novissima Verba 


34 

we to weep on entering heaven? . . . There must 
be tears, nevertheless, for has He not said He 
would ‘wipe away all tears from their eyes.’ ” 2 

When preparing for confession before Extreme Unction, 
she searched with me for the sins she might have com¬ 
mitted through the senses. Her extreme delicacy of con¬ 
science prompted her to ask my opinion about this partic¬ 
ular circumstance in her life: 

“I recall,” she said, “that once when I was on 
a journey, I used some Cologne water with too 
much natural satisfaction. . . ” 

With much sweetness she recalled an occasion when 
she was not understood, and added: 

“Our Lady kept everything in her heart. Surely 
they cannot blame me for acting like her.” 


She was aware that some of the sisters did not believe 
her to be in danger of death. And when she said: 

“I have such an ardent desire to receive Extreme 
Unction, even though it will be all the worse for 
me if they judge unfavorably about it later,” she 


2 Apoc. 21:4. 





Novissima Verba 35 

was referring here to her possible restoration to 
health. 

O'*-*'*-© 

She was feeling a little better and said playfully: 

“You might think the little angels had entered 
into a conspiracy to hide the light that was con¬ 
vincing me the end was near.” 

“Have they succeeded in hiding the Blessed Mother, 
too?” I inquired. 

“No,” she rejoined, “the Blessed Virgin will 
never be hidden from me, for I love her too much 
for that to happen.” 

O'*-*'*® 

We were expressing our gratitude for the consolation 
her affectionate words afforded us. 

“My little sisters,” she answered, “I offer you 
the fruits of joy the good God has given me. 

“In heaven, I hope to obtain an abundance of 
grace for those who have benefited me. As for 
you, Mother, you will not even be able to make 
use of all I shall send to you. There will be very 
much to make you rejoice.” 

©-*•*+© 

“If you only knew how sweetly I shall be judged. 
Nevertheless, if God did chide me a little, I should 





36 Novissima Verba 

find it sweet all the same. And even should I be 
sent to purgatory I would still be happy and 
would, like the three Hebrew children, sing can¬ 
ticles of Love in the midst of the fiery furnace. 
If, in that way, I were able to deliver some other 
souls and suffer in their place, how happy I should 
be, for then I would be doing good by delivering 
the captives!’ 

She warned me that, later on, a great number of young 
priests would ask for a spiritual sister, after they had 
learned she herself had filled that office for two mission¬ 
aries. She pointed out that this might be dangerous for 
certain souls. 

“Never mind,” she continued, “if some other 
nun writes as I have written and receives the same 
compliments, the same confidences. ... It is by 
prayer and sacrifice alone that we can be useful 
to the Church. Such correspondence should be ex¬ 
tremely rare, and for certain religious it ought 
not to be allowed at all. I mean that type of soul 
who would become preoccupied by it and think 
she was working marvels, whereas in reality she 
might be only wounding her own soul and per¬ 
haps falling into the snares of the devil. Mother! 
what I am saying is very important: do not forget 
it later on. 







TSSovissima Verba 37 

“At Carmel we must not coin false lucre to pur¬ 
chase souls. And fine words written and fine words 
received are often only an exchange of counterfeit 
coin.” 

JULY 9, 1897 

Our Father Superior had come to decide about adminis¬ 
tering Extreme Unction, and he said to her: "You! going 
to heaven so soon? You have not by any means earned 
your crown; you have only just begun.” She answered: 

. . . Ah, Father, what you say is only too true. 
No, I have not as yet earned my crown, but the 
good God has won it for me instead.” 

All during that visit she succeeded so well in remain¬ 
ing cheerful and agreeable (in spite of her suffering) 
that there was no longer question of her reception of the 
Sacrament which she had yearned so ardently to receive. 
Later, when I mentioned to her that she evidently did not 
know the proper tactics for gaining one’s point, she gently 
replied: 

“I do not know that trade.” 


Someone had told her she was indeed privileged to be 
without any fear of death. She said: 

*■ • • But why should I be preserved from the 




Novissima Verba 


38 

fear of death more than anyone else? I am not 
boasting like St. Peter: ‘I will not deny thee.’” 3 

JULY 10 , 1897 

We said to her: “There are some saints who had the 
fear of damnation. How is it that you also are not afraid 
of being lost?” With loving assurance she answered: 

“Little children do not damn themselves ” 


Although she was suffering intensely, she began to 
wonder if she was as seriously ill as the doctor believed. 
She then confided to me: 

“If I were not completely abandoned to the will 
of God, if my soul allowed itself to be over¬ 
whelmed by those ever-exchanging sentiments of 
joy and sadness that shuttle us through this exile, 
I should be submerged in a flood of very bitter 
sorrow, indeed. But such alternations reach only 
the surface of my soul. Still, they are great trials!” 




In Therese’s presence one of the nuns referred to those 
facial contortions often visible at the moment of death. 
The Saint responded: 


8 Matt. 26:35. 










Novissima Verba 39 

“If that happens in my case, do not distress 
yourselves, for immediately after death I shall be 
all smiles!” 


Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face had mentioned that 
the representation of an infant’s pretty little head she had 
seen on the cover of a baptismal case would be a good 
model for an angel’s head. Our little Saint was very 
anxious to see the picture, but since no one thought of 
showing it to her, she made the sacrifice and did not 
refer to it at all. She confided this to me later. 


JULY II, 1897 

I entered into conversation with her about the manu¬ 
script of her Autobiography and of the profit many souls 
would derive from it. She answered: 

“• . . It will be clearly seen, however, that all 
comes from God. My share in the glory will be 
a gratuitous gift which does not belong to me. 
Everybody will be convinced of this. . . ” 


She was conversing with me about the Communion 
of Saints, and showed how the merits of each individual 
soul make for the happiness of the others. She concluded: 

“Just as a mother glories in her children, so shall 



Novissima Verba 


40 

we be proud of one another in heaven without 
the least shadow of jealousy.” 


Again about the manuscript of her Autobiography: 

. . Some persons might think that it is only 
because I have been preserved from mortal sin 
that I have such great confidence in God. Make 
it quite clear, Mother, to all that even if I had 
committed every possible crime, my confidence 
would remain unshaken, for I should then feel 
that all the multitude of my offences would vanish 
as a drop of water cast into a fiery furnace. It 
would also be well to relate this story of a con¬ 
verted sinner who died of love. People will lend 
a willing ear at once, and this example will en¬ 
courage them.” 

This is the story exactly as she related it to me: 

“It is related in the Lives of the Fathers of the 
Desert that one of them converted a woman who 
was a public sinner, and whose evil life had scan¬ 
dalized the entire countryside. Touched by grace, 
that poor sinner followed the Saint into the desert, 
there to accomplish a rigorous penance. On the 
very first night of the journey, however, even be- 





Novissima Verba 41 

fore she had come to the place of her self-imposed 
solitude, her earthly ties were snapped by the 
violence of her repentant love. At that very mo¬ 
ment the holy man saw her soul being carried by 
angels up to the very bosom of God. This is a 
striking example of what I mean, but such things 
defy description. . . 

©-mw-o 

She was suffering much from her temptations against 
faith and was also, physically, very weak. Then she began 
to recite this strophe of her canticle to the Blessed Mother 
entitled: Why 1 Love Thee, Mary: 

“Since Heaven’s high King has willed it so, His 
Mother and His dearest, 

Should know the anguish of that night, the torn 
heart’s deepest woe, 

Then are not those who suffer thus, to Mary’s 
heart the nearest, 

And is not love in suffering God’s highest gift 
below ? 

All, all that He has given me, oh! tell Him He 
may take it, 

Tell Him, dear Mother, He may do whate’er He 
please with me: 

That He may bruise my heart today, and make 
it sore and break it, 



Novissima Verba 


42 

So that only through eternity my eyes His Face 
may see!” 

I said to her: “How much the good God has favored 
you! What do you think of such predilection?” 

She answered: 

u . . . I simply think that the Spirit of God 
breathes where He wills. . . 


t-y***© 

She reminded me of some of the extraordinary graces 
she had received in prayer in the past, of those summer 
evenings during the Great Silence, 4 and told me she un¬ 
derstood by experience what the “flight of the spirit” 
means. 5 She spoke further of a grace of this kind she 
had received in the garden grotto of St. Mary Magdalen 
in July of 1889. This grace was followed by several days 
of “quietude.” She concluded: 

M . . . It was as if a veil had been thrown over 
me hiding all the things of earth. ... I seemed 
to be entirely hidden beneath the veil of the Blessed 
Virgin. At the time, I had charge of the Refectory, 
and I performed my actions as though I performed 
them not. It was as if I were acting in a borrowed 
body. I remained in this state for an entire week. 

4 The hour after Compline, 8 to 9, preceding the recitation of 
Matins. 

5 St. Ter-sa of Avila, The Interior Castle. 6th Mansion, chap 5. 




Novissima Verba 


43 

It is a supernatural state, very difficult to explain. 
God alone can bring it about, and such a grace 
suffices sometimes to detach a soul forever from 
this world.” 

€£***(•> 

JULY 12 , 1897 

“I keep nothing stored up. All I have and all 
the merits I acquire are for the Church and for 
souls. Were I to live to be eighty, I should always 
remain poor.” 

She related to me how once, when she was second 
portress, she underwent a very severe interior struggle 
because of a night lamp someone ordered her to prepare 
for the outside quarters in a circumstance that was un¬ 
fortunate. Moreover, there was nothing at hand to assist 
her in the work. The struggle was so violent that, in 
order not to give way, she implored God’s help with 
great insistence. She then expended her very best efforts 
upon it, and consecrated to the task the hour of the 
Great Silence before Matins. She added: 

“To conquer myself I directed my interior inten¬ 
tion to the Blessed Virgin and the Infant Jesus as 
though I were preparing the night lamp for them. 
Then I accomplished the task with the most un¬ 
believable care, not leaving a single grain of dust 
on it, and gradually a great tranquility and a sur- 





Novissima Verba 


44 

passing sweetness invaded my soul. The signal 
for Matins came, and I could not answer it at 
once; but I had received such a grace that if Sister 
X had come and told me, for example, that I had 
made a mistake and must prepare another night 
lamp, I should have obeyed her with transcending 
happiness. Beginning from that day, I resolved 
never to stop at the consideration whether things 
commanded are reasonable or not.” 


<•>***© 


‘‘If you could begin your life over again,” she was 
asked, “what would you do?” She answered: 

. . It seems to me I should do just as I have 
done in the past.” 

“God will have to grant all my wishes in heaven 
because I have never done my own will on earth.” 

“You will look down on us from on high, will you 
not?” she was asked. She answered: 

. . No, I shall come down.” 






Novissima Verba 


45 

“I do not say: 'If it be hard to live in Carmel, 
it is sweet to die there/ but rather ‘If it is sweet 
to live in Carmel, it is sweeter still to die there/ ” 


GV***<2> 

Someone offered her a glass of some strengthening 
wine. She smiled. 

“I no longer wish for the wine of earth. ... I 
desire to ‘drink with you new in the kingdom of 
my Father/ ” 6 

“I beg you to make an act of love of God and 
an invocation to all the saints. . . . They are all 
my relatives up there/’ 

She spoke again about the Communion of Saints. 

“With the virgins, we shall be like virgins; with 
the doctors, we shall be like doctors; with the mar¬ 
tyrs, we shall be like martyrs, because all the saints 
are our relatives. But those who have followed the 
way of spiritual childhood will always retain the 
charms of childhood.” 


Matt. 26:29. 







Novissima Verba 


46 

“From my childhood, God has given me a most 
intimate presentiment that I should die young.” 


“God has always inspired me to desire that 
which He wished to give me.” 


GW-itSf© 

She said to her sisters: 

“Do not think that when I am in heaven you 
will have nothing but joys. Such has not been my 
lot nor have I desired that it should be. You will, 
on the contrary, probably have many severe trials, 
but I shall win for you the light and grace to 
appreciate and love them so that you will be com¬ 
pelled to repeat with me: ‘For thou hast given me, 
O Lord, a delight in thy doings.’ ” 7 

“I cannot dwell long on the thought of the hap¬ 
piness awaiting me in heaven. One expectation 
alone makes my heart beat fast: it is the love I 
shall receive and the love I shall be able to give. 
. . . I am thinking about all the wonderful things 
I should like to do after my death: to baptize little 

7 Ps. 91:5. 






Novissima Verba 


47 

children, to aid priests and missionaries, and to 
assist the entire Church. . . 


“This evening I was listening to some distant 
music, and I began to think that very soon I should 
be listening to other incomparable melodies, but 
this consolation was but a fleeting one.” 


“If I had been rich, it would have been impossi¬ 
ble for me to see a poor man hungry without 
giving him straightway something of my goods. 
So also in the measure that I gain any spiritual 
treasure, at once do I think of those souls who are 
in danger of falling into hell. I shower upon them 
all I possess, and I have never yet found a moment 
when I could say: ‘Now I am going to work for 
my own spiritual welfare.’ ” 


“All the good God has given me has always 
pleased me, even when there was question of those 
things which seemed less good and less delightful 
than were given to others ” 









4 8 


Novissima Verba 


“My heart is filled to the brim with the love of 
God, so whenever anything else is poured in, it 
does not penetrate, but glides off easily. It is like 
oil which cannot mingle with water. In the depths 
of my soul, I always remain in a profound peace 
which nothing can disturb.” 


Her accent and expression were truly sublime as she re¬ 
cited for me this strophe of her canticle Remember Thou: 

“Remember that Thy Holy Will alone 
Is all my peace, my only happiness. 

I yield myself to Thee, my very own, 

Within Thy Arms with only a power to bless. 
But if Thou seemest to sleep while raging waves 
beat high, 

In peace I shall remain without one anguished 
cry. 

In peace on Thee I wait, 

But for th’ awakening great 
Prepare me now.” 

Noticing that her body was becoming emaciated, she 
said to me: 

“Oh! what a joyful experience it is for me to see 
my body undergoing this destruction!” 








Novissima Verba 


49 


JULY 13, 1897 

M . . . During the years of Papa’s illness, when¬ 
ever Celine (Sister Genevieve) came to the parlor 
for her visit, I could never manage to say all I 
desired to say in the space of a half-hour. Then 
if I felt bad over something I had forgotten, or if 
there were some spiritual light I was longing to 
share with her, I confided it to Our Lord and 
asked Him to make it known to her Himself. In¬ 
variably, at the next visit, I would see clearly He 
had heard my prayer completely. ... In the be¬ 
ginning, when her sorrow was at its height, I used 
to go away from the parlor brokenhearted when 
^ had not succeeded in consoling her. But soon 
;he light broke in on my soul, and I understood, 
[after all, that of myself I was incapable of consol- 
ng any soul. Thereafter, I was not in the least 
distressed whenever she went away sad, for I sim¬ 
ply asked Jesus then to supply for my powerless¬ 
ness. 

“Ever since that time, whenever it happens that 
I involuntarily cause pain to anyone, I simply ask 
God to pass by after me, and I do not worry any 
more about the matter.” 







50 Novissima Verba 

I asked her to tell me exactly her assigned tasks during 
her years at Carmel. This was her reply: 

“At my entrance, I was placed with Mother 
Sub-Prioress, 8 who was in charge of the linen. In 
addition, I had to sweep a staircase and a dormi¬ 
tory. It was during this period that I was sent out 
each afternoon at half-past four to pull up the 
weeds in the garden, which so displeased Our 
Mother. 

“After my Clothing, I worked in the Refectory 
until I was eighteen; I swept it and poured out 
the water and the beer. At the Forty Hours’ De¬ 
votion in 1891, I was sent to the Sacristy. From 
June of the following year I was without any as¬ 
signed task for the space of two months. It was 
during that period I painted the fresco around 
the Tabernacle in the Oratory, and I was also 
companion to the Depository at the time. At the 
end of those two months, I was sent to the Turn 
while continuing to work in the art-room. I re¬ 
mained at these two assignments until the elections 
of 1896 when I returned to the Sacristy work. 
Later I became seriously ill, and it was then that 
I asked to help Sister X in mending the linen.” 


’The Mother Sub-Prioress to whom Therese refers is Sister 
Marie of the Angels, her Novice Mistress, who died on Novem- 
ber 24, 1924. 









Novissima Verba 


5 1 

She reminded me quite humbly how some of the nuns 
had said in the past that she was slow about her work 
and but little devoted to the offices assigned to her, which 
was not actually the case. She added that their observa¬ 
tions about her, however, even made me wonder, for a 
short time, if they were right. There were other particular 
circumstances, she continued, causing her suffering, when, 
for instance, she was my assistant in the Refectory work. 
She could not be intimate with me any longer, and this 
was a source of continual suffering to her. Through a 
spirit of self-sacrifice she did not allow herself to seek 
this permission (to lay bare the secrets of her soul to me), 
which would have been readily granted. And she sighed: 

“It seemed as though you no longer knew me!” 

She told me, moreover, of the violence to self she- had 
to exercise when removing spiders from the alcove of 
St. Alexis (a little corner near the Refectory; it was under 
the staircase), for she always had a great natural repug¬ 
nance to spiders. Other similar details she gave made 
me realize how faithful she had been in everything and 
how severely she had suffered without others’ suspecting 
it in the least. 


JULY 14, 1897 

“Some time ago I read that the Israelites, when 
building the walls of Jerusalem, labored with one 
hand while holding a sword in the other. We 
should act like that, and never give ourselves over 
wholly to any work in which we are engaged.” 





5 2 


Novissima Verba 


july 15, 1897 

One of the nuns said to her: “Perhaps you will die 
tomorrow, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, after 
Holy Communion.” She replied: 

“Oh! that does not resemble my little way in 
the least. . . . Would you want me to leave this 
little way, then, in order to die? . . . To die after 
Holy Communion! For me that would be too 
nice: little souls could not imitate me there . . . 
unless, of course, my death were to take place 
accidentally tomorrow morning!” 

She then related to me a story about Blessed Theophane 
Venard when he was on his way to martyrdom. In his 
hand he held the pyx containing the Sacred Host which 
he intended to receive as his last Communion. Suddenly 
the pyx was wrenched from his. hand, and he saw his 
executioners carrying it off. . . . (Therese then heaved 
a deep sigh.) 

The remembrance of the following incident always 
brought a special grace to the Saint, and she gave me 
these details: 

“Sister Marie of the Eucharist [her cousin, Marie 
Guerin] had no matches to light the candles for 
a procession. Although there was only a feeble 
glimmer on the burnt wick of the little lamp at 




Novissima Verba 


53 

the relic shrine, Sister Marie succeeded in lighting 
her candle from that little spark. Her candle in 
turn served to light the candles of all the nuns in 
the community. And I thought to myself: ‘Who, 
then, can glory in his own works? ... As a dying 
ember, that little lamp was able to produce those 
sturdy little flames, which, in turn, could have 
continued imparting life to innumerable others 
until the entire world was drawn within its cir¬ 
cuit. Yet, it would always be that humble little 
lamp that was the first cause of all that flame. . . 

“It is the same with the Communion of Saints. 
Yes, one very little spark can produce great lights 
in the Church, like the Doctors and Martyrs. 
Without being aware of it, the graces and lights 
we receive are often due to some hidden soul, be¬ 
cause God wills the saints to communicate grace 
to one another by prayer. In this way, they will 
all love one another with a stronger love in heaven, 
a love that will be greater even than that of a 
family, and even of the most ideal family on earth. 

“Often, very often, I have thought perhaps all 
the graces I have received are due to the prayers 
of some little soul who obtained them from God 
for me. And I may never know that soul until I 
reach heaven.” 






Novissima Verba 


54 

. . In heaven, there will be no indifferent 
glances or attitudes because all the elect will re¬ 
member that they owe to one another the graces 
that have merited for them their reward.” 


JULY l6, 1897 

Speaking of a desire that had been granted to have 
Celine (Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face) near her at 
Carmel, Therese said: 

“I had made a complete sacrifice concerning 
Sister Genevieve, but I cannot say that I no longer 
desired to have her enter here. Often in the sum¬ 
mer, during the hour of Great Silence before 
Matins, when I was on the terrace, I used to think 
to myself: ‘Oh, if only my Celine were here, right 
beside me! . . . But then that would be too great 
a happiness!’ And it seemed an impossible dream. 
It was not, however, to please nature that I de¬ 
sired this happiness. It was, rather, in the interests 
of Celine’s soul, and that she might follow my 
little way. And when I now realize that not only 
has she entered, but has been given over entirely 
to me for instruction, and when I see how God 
so infinitely surpasses my desires, it is then I truly 
understand how tremendously He loves me. 

“And so, Little Mother, if a desire that was 





Novissima Verba 


55 

hardly expressed has been so gloriously fulfilled, it 
is impossible that those other great desires I con¬ 
stantly recommend to God should not also be 
perfectly accomplished.” 

Early in the month of July she had finished the work 
on the manuscript of her Autobiography, 9 About the 
manuscript she said to me: 

“Mother, you must revise all I have written. If 
you find it necessary to omit some things, or to 
add anything I have said viva voce, it will be the 
same as if I had done this myself. Remember this 
later on, and do not have any scruple in the matter. 

“You know all the innermost recesses of my 
soul, you alone. . . 

“Mother, in the manuscript I scarcely said two 
words on the subject of God’s justice. But you 
will find an expression of my true thought on the 
matter in one of my letters to Father Roulland, 10 
where all is explained clearly.” 

Q The last pages of her manuscript were written in pencil. 
Sometimes her physical weakness made it difficult for her to 
write at all, even in pencil. 

10 One of her “spiritual” brothers. 




Novissima Verba 


5 6 

“The great saints have labored for the glory of 
God, but I, who am only a very little soul, work 
only to give Him pleasure. I should be happy to 
bear the greatest sufferings if only to gain His 
smile, even once.” 

JULY 17, 1897 

“I feel that my mission is about to begin; my 
mission of making souls love the good God as I 
love Him, to teach my little way to souls. If my 
desires receive fulfillment, I shall spend my heaven 
on earth even until the end of time. 

“Yes, 1 will spend my heaven doing good upon 
earth . That is not impossible, since from the midst 
of the Beatific Vision Itself the angels watch over 
us. 

“No, I shall not be able to take any rest until 
the end of the world, as long as there are souls 
to be saved. But when the angel shall declare, 
'Time shall be no longer/ 11 then shall I take my 
rest, because the number of the elect will be com¬ 
plete, and all souls shall have entered into their 
joy and their rest. My heart thrills at that thought” 

I asked her for some explanations about her way and 
just how she desired to teach souls about it after her 
death. She answered: 


11 Apoc. 10:6. 







Novissima Verba 


57 

“Mother, it is the way of spiritual childhood, the 
path of confidence and total abandonment. I would 
show them the little method I have found so per¬ 
fectly successful, and tell them there is but one 
thing to do on earth: to cast before Jesus the 
flowers of little sacrifices. That is what I have done, 
and that is why I shall be so well received.” 

“Shortly after the chaplain’s visit with me, Sister 
Marie of the Sacred Heart saw him in the parlor. 
When I met her later, I had a strong inclination 
to ask her what the chaplain had said about my 
spiritual condition. I believed it would, perhaps, 
benefit and console me to know. But on reflection 
I said: ‘This is curiosity. I will not make any in¬ 
quiry about it. Since God did not inspire her to 
vouch any information of her own accord that is 
a sign He does not wish me to know it.’ And I 
purposely avoided directing our conversation into 
that channel. I feared that Sister Marie of the 
Sacred Heart might be, so to say, forced to tell 
me; and then I should not be happy about it. . . 

July 18, 1897 

M . . . God would not have given me the desire 
to do good upon earth after my death if He did 






Novissima Verba 


58 

not will to realize it; He would rather have given 
me the desire instead to rest in Him. What do 
you think of that. Little Mother?” 


©***<•> 

To Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, who had said to 
her: “The thought that you are going to die throws me 
into a state of prostration; if I yielded to my inclinations 
I would speak no more to anyone,” Therese answered: 

“That would not be according to the law of the 
Gospel. No matter what the circumstance, we 
must make ourselves all things to all.” 

“Rejoice! You will very soon be freed from the pains 
of this life,” said one of her sisters. 

“Rejoice at that! Oh! no . . 

And regarding her with an ingenuous smile: 

“. . . I who am such a valiant soldier! . . 

Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face was reading for her 
a conference on eternal beatitude; suddenly Therese in¬ 
terrupted her: 

“It is not that which attracts me . . .” 

“What, then?” 





Novissima Verba 59 

“Oh, it is love! To love and to be loved and to 
return to earth to make Love to be loved! . . 

JULY 20 , 1897 

“What would you have done if one of us (her three 
sisters) had been sick instead of you? Would you have 
come to the Infirmary during the time of recreation?” 

. . I should have gone directly to recreation 
without asking any news of you, but I should 
have done it so simply that no one would have 
noticed my sacrifice. If I had been called to the 
Infirmary, I should have purified my intention 
and gone to give you pleasure, and not for my own 
satisfaction. Thus I should draw down graces 
upon you which I should not have obtained by 
self-seeking. And personally I should have gained 
great strength from my own self-sacrifice. If some¬ 
times, through weakness, I should have done other¬ 
wise than I had determined, I should not have 
been discouraged, but would have endeavored to 
repair my failure by denying myself still more 
without its being noticed.” 


“I am happy to die in the arms of Our Mother, 12 


13 Mother Marie of Gonzaga. 






6 o 


Novissima Verba 


because she represents God. With you, perhaps 
there would have been something of natural feel¬ 
ing; I much prefer that which is wholly super¬ 
natural.” 

We wished to profit by her last days on earth to ask 
her about many things. 

“When I am harassed with questions, it makes 
me think of Joan of Arc before her tribunal. It 
seems to me that I answer with the same sincerity.” 

JULY 21 , 1897 

“I have never acted like Pilate, who refused to 
listen to the truth. I have always said to God: ‘I 
wish to hear You attentively, I beseech You to 
answer me when I ask You humbly: What is truth? 
Make me see things exactly as they are, that noth¬ 
ing may dazzle me.’ ” 

She reminded me of that prayer which she had loved 
to repeat so often at the time of her First Communion: 
“O Jesus, ineffable sweetness, change into bitterness for 
me all the consolations of earth,” 13 and she added: 


18 Imitation of Christ, III, xxxvi, 3. 










Novissima Verba 61 

. . Yet I did not pray to be deprived of divine 
consolation, but only of those joys and illusions 
which so often turn the soul away from God. 


I was telling her that she was very fortunate to have 
been chosen by God to show to other souls the way of 
love and confidence. 

She answered: 

“What does it matter whether it is I or another 
who reveals that way to souls? Provided they be 
shown, what matters the instrument?” 

O'*-*-*© 

JULY 22 , 1897 

“I have never given God aught but love, and 
He will repay me with love.” 

JULY 23, 1897 

“You are suffering much; perhaps you will suffer much 
more . . . that thought gives us such pain! . . .” She 
replied: 

“We who run in the way of love ought not to 
think of sorrows the future may bring, for then 
there is a lack of confidence, and that is how we 
confuse ourselves with fancies and imaginations. 








62 


Novissima Verba 


“In te Domine speravil 14 At the time of our 
great family trial [her father’s illness], how happy 
I was when it was my turn to say that verse in 
the choir.” 

Someone had sent her from outside some delicious 
fruits, but she was unable to eat them. She took them 
up one by one, as if to offer them to someone, and said: 

“The Holy Family has been well served. St. 
Joseph and the little Jesus have each had a peach 
and two plums. And the Blessed Virgin has had 
her portion also. 

“When they give me milk with a little rum I 
offer it to St. Joseph. I say to myself: ‘Oh, that 
will be very good for poor St. Joseph!’ In the 
Refectory I had special rubrics for offering up dif¬ 
ferent foods which came to me: the sweet was for 
little Jesus, the strong for St. Joseph, the Blessed 
Virgin had the hot portions and the ripest fruit. 
But when something was lacking to me, I was all 
the better pleased, because then I had indeed 
given it to the Holy Family.” 




JULY 25, 1897 


I confessed to her that I should end by wishing her to 
die, so that I might not see her suffering so much. 


14 “In thee, O Lord, have I trusted!” 





No visstm a Verba 63 

“You ought not to say that, Little Mother, be¬ 
cause to suffer is exactly that which pleases me 
in life,” she answered. 

“Where is the Divine Thief now? He is not spoken 
of any more. . . .” 

She replied, placing her hand on her heart: 

“He is here! He is in my heart. . . 

I said that in appearance death is very sad, and re¬ 
marked how grieved I should be on seeing her dead. She 
answered very affectionately: 

“The Blessed Virgin indeed held the dead body 
of Jesus on her knees, disfigured, bloodstained. 
That is quite a different thing from what you will 
see. Ah, I do not know how she did it! . . . If 
they brought me to you in that state, I won¬ 
der what would become of you? . . . Responde 
mihi?. . . 

Someone asked her, while I was present, to give some 
advice about spiritual direction: 

“I think it is well to be on our guard and to 
avoid all self-seeking, otherwise our heart will be 
wounded, and then we will say with truth: The 
keepers have taken away my cloak, they have 









64 Novissima Verba 

wounded me. . . . It was only after I had gone 
a little beyond them that I found my Well-Be¬ 
loved.’ 15 If the soul humbly asks the keepers where 
her Well-Beloved is, they will tell her; but if she 
wants to be admired, she will fall into trouble and 
lose her simplicity of heart.” 

In reference to a novice who tried to hide her feelings 
from her, Therese observed: 

“Virtue shines naturally; I notice at once when 
it is no longer there.” 

©-h#s-© 

“Leaning forward a little, and looking out of 
the window, I just saw the setting sun casting 
his last rays upon nature. I noticed how the tree- 
tops appeared all golden in his light. Then I said: 
‘So also my soul appears bright and golden, be¬ 
cause it is exposed to the rays of Love.’ But if 
the Divine Sun ceased to cast His rays upon me, 

I should very soon become shadowed and over¬ 
cast.” 


15 Cf. Cant. 5:7; 3:4. 






Novissima Verba 65 

july 27, 1897 

At the end of a hard day’s washing she said to me: 

“Toward one o’clock I thought to myself: ‘The 
sisters are very tired in the laundry.’ And I asked 
God to solace you all, so that the work might be 
done in peace and love. I thought as I lay here 
sick that I was experiencing the joy of suffering 
along with you.” 

csvi- 

She reminded me of certain words of St. John of the 
Cross: 

“‘Break the web of this sweet encounter.’ 16 I 
have always applied those words to the death of 
love which I desire. Love will not wear out the 
web of my life, it will break it suddenly. 

“With what desire and with what consolation 
I have repeated to myself from the commence¬ 
ment of my religious life these other words of 
St. John of the Cross: ‘It is of the highest impor¬ 
tance that the soul exercise itself much in love, 
so that its course may be quickly finished, and 
being but little delayed here below, it may quickly 
come to see God face to face! 

C-Vr#'*'© 

16 The Living Flame of Love, strophe I. 

17 Ibid . 










66 


Novissima Verba 


“As for my mission, like that of Joan of Arc, 
the will of God will be accomplished, notwith¬ 
standing the hostility of men/’ 


“I rejoice at death only because it is the expres¬ 
sion of Gods will for me.” 

“I have never asked God that I might die young; 
so I am sure then that it will be accomplished only 
at the moment which He wills.” 

After a crisis of suffocation, I showed my compassion 
and distress. 

“Oh, do not be distressed; if I suffocate, God 
will give me strength to bear it. I love Him! He 
will never abandon me!” 

JULY 28 , 1897 

Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart said to her: “How 
happy to die after having spent one’s life in love.” 

“Yes, but to enjoy that happiness it is necessary 
also to have practiced fraternal love.” 






Novissima Verba 


67 

JULY 29, 1897 

A sister related to her these words, which she had 
heard during recreation: “I do not see why anyone speaks 
of Sister Therese of the Child Jesus as a saint. She has 
practiced virtue, it is true, but not a virtue acquired 
through suffering and humiliation.” 

Therese said to me on that subject: 

“And I who have suffered so much from my 
tenderest infancy! Ah, what good it does me to 
know the opinion of creatures at the hour of 
death.” 

Someone thought to give her pleasure by bringing to 
her a distracting object, but it had the opposite effect. 
She feared she had hurt the sister’s feelings, and asked 
her pardon with tears: 

“Oh, I do ask your pardon; I have acted accord¬ 
ing to nature; pray for me. . . 

And a little later: 

“How happy I am to see myself imperfect and 
to have such need of the mercy of God at the 
moment of death.” 


We expressed our fears that she would die during the 
night, and she replied: 








68 


Novissima Verba 


“I shall not die during the night. Be assured of 
this: I do not wish to die during the night, and I 
have asked that favor of the Blessed Virgin.” 


During the evening she said: 

“I am going to die at last! For three days I have 
suffered very much; this evening it is like being 
in purgatory.” 

“Very often, when I have enough strength, I 
repeat my Offering to the All-merciful Love.” 




In speaking to me of certain past trials, she said: 

“That which has been our humiliation for a 
moment will be our glory, even in this life.” 




“I have never had much capacity for enjoyment; 
I have always noticed that; but I have a great 
capacity for suffering.” 





Novissima Verba 


69 

JULY 30, 1897 

“My body has always inconvenienced me; I have 
never been at home in it . . . and even when 
quite a little child it caused me confusion.” 


“I would not pick up a straw to avoid going to 
purgatory. All that I have done, I have done to 
give God pleasure and to save souls.” 




The flies tormented her very much, but she would not 
kill them. 

“They are my only enemies, and as God has 
commanded us to forgive our enemies, I am very 
glad to find an occasion to do so. That is why I 
always spare them. . . 




“It is very hard to suffer so much, isn’t it?” she was 
asked. 

“No, I am still able to tell God that I love Him; 
that is sufficient,” she replied. 









?o 


Novissima Verba 


Pointing to a glass which contained a very unpleasant 
remedy, although its appearance was very attractive, she 
said: 

“Do you see that little glass? One would think 
it contained a most delicious drink; but in reality 
I have never tasted anything quite so bitter! Ah, 
well! That is the image of my life, which has 
always appeared to be clothed in the most cheer¬ 
ful colors. To others it has appeared that I drank 
a most exquisite liqueur, while, on the contrary, 
it has been a draught of bitterness. I say of bitter¬ 
ness, yet notwithstanding, my life has not been 
bitter, because I have made the whole of that bit¬ 
terness become my joy and sweetness.” 


“Would you prepare me to receive Extreme 
Unction? . . . Pray God that I receive it as well 
as it is possible to do so. 

“Our Father Superior 18 said to me: ‘You are 
going to be like a little child who has just been 
baptized.’ Then he spoke to me only of Love. Oh, 
how touched I was!” 

In the afternoon she received Extreme Unction and 
Holy Communion by way of Viaticum. After the cere- 

18 Canon Maupas, parish priest of Saint Jacques, Lisieux. 





Novissima Verba 


7 1 

mony, with much reverence, she showed us her hands. 
Before she had time to finish her act of thanksgiving, 
several sisters came in to speak with her. Later on she 
said to me: 

“How much I was disturbed during my act of 
thanksgiving! But I remembered that our Lord 
when He had sought to retire into solitude was 
followed by the multitude, and He did not send 
them away. So I was happy to imitate Him by 
receiving my sisters graciously.” 


They had sent down her palliasse in advance, as they 
thought her death was imminent. She saw it in the In¬ 
firmary in a room adjoining hers. When someone opened 
the door, she exclaimed gaily: 

“Ah! there is our palliasse! It is quite ready to 
receive my corpse !” 19 


“Mother, after my death, if you would make 
known my gratitude to Dr. de Corniere for taking 
care of me, you will paint him a picture with 


16 At Carmel the bodies of the deceased sisters are laid out 
on their palliasses in the Infirmary. Later they are carried to 
the choir, and placed in coffins. 








Novissima Verba 


72 

these words on it: ‘As long as you did it to one 
of these my least brethren, you did it to me.’ ” 20 

JULY 31, 1897 

“I have found joy and happiness on earth, but 
solely in suffering, because I have suffered much 
here below. You must make this known to 
souls. . . . 

“Ever since my First Communion, when I asked 
Jesus to change into bitterness all the consolations 
of earth, I have had a ceaseless desire to suffer. I 
did not, however, at first think of making it my 
joy. That was a grace accorded me later on. Until 
then it was like a spark hidden in ashes, and like 
the flowers of a tree, which should give place to 
fruit in due season. But seeing the flowers always 
falling—that is to say, letting my tears fall when 
I was suffering—I thought to myself with aston¬ 
ishment and sadness: ‘Then there will be nothing 
but desires!’” 

I said to her: “If you should live much longer, no one 
will believe you have really been sick!” 

She answered joyously: 


Matt. 25:40. 




Novissima Verba 73 

“What does it matter! The whole world may 
well despise me, that is what I have always desired. 
I shall have it, then, at the end of my life. 


The three of us (her sisters) were near her, and we 
were beginning to grow a little drowsy from fatigue and 
sorrow. She watched us, and then, pointing her finger at 
each one of us, she said with an arch smile: 

“Peter, James, and John! . . .” 

We understood the allusion to the Apostles at Geth- 
semane, and at the same time her intention to distract us 
by that playful sally. 






$o$o$o^o$o$ooo$o$o$o$o$o$o$o$o$o$o$o 

AUGUST I, 1897 

She reminded me of the great grace she had been 
granted (in July, 1887) while looking at a picture of Our 
Lord on the Cross, a grace of which she speaks in her 
Autobiography . She repeated to me what she had said then: 

Oh! I would not allow that Precious Blood to 
be lost. I shall spend my life in gathering it up 
for souls.” 

Referring to the manuscript of her Autobiography, she 
said: 

“Mother, you must not discuss the manuscript 
with anyone until it has been published—with 
Our Mother’s consent. If you do act otherwise, 
the devil will employ more than one snare to pre¬ 
vent and injure the work of God —a wor\ that is 
very important!” 

Some time afterward, having asked her to read again a 
passage in her manuscript which appeared to me incom¬ 
plete, I found her with her eyes filled with tears. When I 
asked her the cause, she replied with angelic simplicity: 

What I have read over again in my manuscript 
so truly reveals my soul! . . . Mother, these pages 

74 



Novissima Verba 75 

will do much good. They will make the sweetness 
of the good God better known.” 

Then she added, in a tone as if inspired: 

“Ah! I know it well, all the world will love 
me. . . 

Someone told her of a very ascetic priest who denied 
himself the least alleviation when undergoing a most 
intolerable suffering. 

She replied: 

. . As our Lord has truly said: In my Father’s 
house there are many mansions.* 

“As for me, I should not be able to restrain my¬ 
self in that way ... I prefer rather that type of 
mortification which allows more liberty of spirit ” 

“One will not be able to say of me, as of our 
Mother St. Teresa, ‘She dies because she cannot 
die.’ 

“For my nature, heaven, yes! But grace in my 
soul has acquired such an empire over my nature 
that now I can only say to God: 


John 14:2. 





7 ^ Novissima Verba 

“I fain would live an exile here 
If such be Thy sweet will for me— 

Or fain would flee from exile drear 
And join in heaven’s ecstasy. 

Since Love’s most sweet divinest breath 
Is all I need my life to bless, 

What matters life, what matters death? 
Love is my peace, my happiness.” 


“All passes in this world, even little Therese . . . 
but she will come back! . . .” 


I experience a lively joy, not only in being 
judged to be imperfect, but, above all, in feeling 
that I am so. That joy is sweeter to me than all 
compliments, which really only weary me.” 




august 3, 1897 

How have you attained this unalterable peace which is 
now your portion?” 


“. . . I have forgotten myself, and I have en¬ 
deavored never to seek self in anything.” 





Novissima Verba 77 

I spoke to her of mortification under the form of instru¬ 
ments of penance. 

. . It is necessary to have great moderation 
in those practices, otherwise there will be very 
easily mingled with them more of nature than of 
grace. . . 

And on another occasion she spoke to me on the same 
subject: 

“In the Life of Blessed Henry Suso there is a 
very striking passage with regard to corporal 
penances. He had undertaken the most frightful 
penances, which had well-nigh ruined his health, 
when an angel appeared to him and told him to 
stop, adding: ‘You are not to fight any longer as 
a simple soldier; from this moment I shall arm 
you as a knight.’ And he made the saint under¬ 
stand the superiority of the spiritual conflict over 
the mortifications of the flesh. 

“Very well, Little Mother. God has not willed 
me to fight as a simple soldier. He armed me at 
once as a knight, and I have engaged in the war 
against myself in the spiritual domain by abnega¬ 
tion and little hidden sacrifices. I have found peace 
and humility in that hidden conflict wherein Na¬ 
ture finds nothing for herself.” 



?8 


Novissima Verba 


“My little sisters, pray for those poor sick ones 
who are near death! If you only knew what they 
experience! How easy for them to lose patience 
over some trifle! . . . One ought to be very loving 
and indulgent toward them. . . 

To us, her three sisters, she said: 

“Attend well to regularity. After you have been 
to the parlor, do not stop to exchange your reflec¬ 
tions, because then you would become like mem¬ 
bers of a family where one is deprived of nothing.” 

I told her that she must have been through many 
struggles to attain to such a degree of perfection. 

She replied, with an indefinable accent: 

“Oh, it is not that! . . 

And a little later: 

“Holiness does not consist in this or that prac¬ 
tice; it consists in a disposition of the heart, which 
makes us always humble and little in the arms of 
God, well aware of our feebleness, but boldly con¬ 
fident in the Father’s goodness.” 





Novissima Verba 79 

“Oh, how my shoulder is torturing me! If you 
only knew!” 

Someone went to ease her position. 

. . No, I must not get away from my little 
cross.” 

AUGUST 4, 1897 

On a reflection that was made to her, she said: 

“No, I do not think I am a great saint! . . . 
But I think God has been pleased to bestow such 
favors upon me as will benefit myself and others.” 

Someone brought her a small stalk of corn, and, taking 
one of the best ears, she said: 

“Mother, this ear of corn is the image of my 
soul, which God has loaded with graces for my¬ 
self and for the good of others. . . . Ah! may I 
always incline beneath the abundance of His heav¬ 
enly gifts. . . .” 

Then, fearing that she had manifested a presumptuous 
thought, she added: 

“Oh! that I might be humiliated and maltreated 
to see if I have true humility of heart! Still, when 



8o 


Novissima Verba 


I was humiliated in the past, I was very happy. 
. . . Yes, it does seem to me that I am humble. 
God shows me the truth, and I see so clearly that 
everything comes from Him! . . 


She was suffering very much. 

“Ah! I realize how much I should be discour¬ 
aged if I had not faith, or rather if I did not love 
God!” 

“I fell asleep for a few moments during prayer. 
I dreamed that there was a lack of soldiers for a 
war. You said: ‘We must send Sister Therese of 
the Child Jesus.’ I answered: ‘I would have much 
preferred it to have been for a holy war.’ But I 
set out all the same. 

“Oh, Mother,” she added with animation, “what 
happiness it would have been to fight, for example, 
at the time of the Crusades, or later to fight against 
the heretics! Forward! I should have had no fear 
of the fire! 

“And is it possible, then, that I shall die in my 
bed!” 





'Novissima Verba 81 

“How do you order your spiritual life now?” she was 
asked. 

. . My spiritual life in sickness! it is to suffer, 
and that is all! ... I cannot constrain myself to 
say: ‘My God, this is for the Church; my God, 
this is for France,’ and so on. . . . God knows 
very well what to do with my merits. I have given 
everything to Him just to give Him pleasure. And 
besides, it would weary my mind to be saying to 
Him each instant: ‘Give this to Peter, give that 
to Paul.’ Whenever one of the Sisters asks this of 
me I do it at once, and then I think no more about 
it. When I pray for my brother missionaries, I do 
not offer my sufferings, but say very simply: ‘My 
God, give them everything that I desire for my¬ 
self’. . . .” 

<4S-MIW-© 

AUGUST 5, 1897 

Someone had pitied the Carmelites for having to wear 
such heavy habits during the summer heat. She said: 

“Ah! God will repay us in heaven for having 
worn these heavy habits on earth for love of Him.’ 


A sister said to her that the angels would come at the 
moment of her death to accompany Our Lord, and 



82 Novissima Verba 

Therese would see them all resplendent with light and 
beauty. 

“All such fancies cannot help me; I can nourish 
myself only upon the truth. That is the reason 
why I have never wished to have any visions. On 
earth we can never behold heaven and the angels 
such as they really are. I much prefer to wait for 
that until after my death.” 

“I repeat, like Job: In the morning I hope I 
may not see the evening, and in the evening I 
hope I shall not see the morning.” 1 

For the feast of the following day, August 6, the Trans¬ 
figuration, we placed near her bed a picture of the Holy 
Face, which she liked very much. 2 She said to me: 

“Our Lord has done well to lower His eyes in 
giving us His portrait! For seeing that the eyes 
are the mirror of the soul, if we had been given 
a glimpse of His soul, we should have died of joy. 

“Oh! what good that Holy Face has done in my 
life! When I was composing my canticle, To live 

1 Cf. Job 7:4. 

2 The saint honored especially the Holy Face of Jesus on this 
feast. 











Novissima Verba 


8 3 

of love, it helped me to put it together with great 
facility. I wrote from memory, during the three 
quarters of an hour’s silence in the evening, the 
fifteen couplets I had composed during the day. 
1 hat day, going to the Refectory after the examen, 
I had just composed the strophe: 

“To live of love, it is to dry Thy Tears. 

To seek for pardon for each sinful soul. 

and I repeated these lines to Him when passing 
by the picture, and with so much love. 3 . . . Look¬ 
ing at the Holy Face, I wept for love.” 

“My devotion to the Holy Face, or rather all 
my spirituality, has been based on these words of 
Isaias: ‘There is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: 
and we have seen him, and there was no sightli¬ 
ness [in him]. . . . Despised and the most abject 
of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with 
infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and 
despised, whereupon we esteemed him not.’ 4 I, 
too, desire to be without glory or beauty, to tread 
the winepress alone, 5 unknown to any creature.” 

8 On passing before the picture of the Holy Face, going 
from the Choir to the Refectory. 

Msa. 53:2-3. 

8 Cf. Isa. 63:3. 




8 4 


Novtsstma Verba 


august 6, 1897 

She had hoped to die at the dawn of this day, and she 
never ceased to gaze upon the Holy Face during the night. 
In the morning she said to me: 

“I have awaited Jesus all the night. I have re¬ 
sisted many temptations. Ah, how many acts of 
faith I have made! ... I, too, can say: ‘I have 
looked on my right hand and considered, and 
there was no one that would know me . . . that 
would know the moment of my death.’ ” 0 

She then gazed at the statue of the Blessed Virgin and 
sang softly: 

“When shall it come, my tender Mother, 

That joyful day, when shall it come? 

When earth is no more and exile ended 
I fly to the joys of my heavenly home.” 


Concerning the Office of the Dead, from which they 
had finally dispensed her on account of her sickness, she 
said to me: 

“I have nothing now upon which to rest; upon 
not one of my works do I place my confidence. 
I cannot even say to myself: ‘I have duly said all 
my Offices of the Dead. . . .’ But the consciousness 


* Ps. 141:5. 







Novissima Verba 


8 5 

of my poverty has been a true light to me. I real¬ 
ized that I have never in my whole life discharged 
one of my debts toward God, and that this was a 
veritable fortune for me and also a strength, if 1 
would have it. Then I made this prayer: ‘O my 
God, I beseech You to discharge Yourself the debt 
I have contracted toward the souls in purgatory. 
Rut do it as befits a God, that so it may be infi¬ 
nitely better than if I myself had fulfilled my obli¬ 
gations.’ And I recalled with great sweetness those 
words of the poetical canticle of St. John of the 
Cross: ‘Pay every debt/ 7 I have always applied 
this line to love. I feel it is a grace which cannot 
be explained. . . . One experiences so great a peace 
in being absolutely poor and trusting in no one 
save God alone.” 

We were speaking together of the little value people 
usually set on hidden virtue. She added: 

“That struck me most of all, in reading the life 
of St. John of the Cross. Did not someone say of 
him: ‘Brother John of the Cross! Why. he is a 
religious who is rather less than ordinary!’ . . 




' The Living Flame of Love, *trophe II. 




86 


Novissima Verba 


The course of her sickness took a disconcerting turn. 
“Of what, then, will you die?” I asked. 

“But I shall die of death! Did not God tell Adam 
of what he should die? He said to him: Thou 
shalt die the death.’ * 8 It is all that simple.” 




In reference to the Divine Office: 

“How proud I felt when I was hebdomadarian 9 
at the Office and recited all the prayers in a loud 
voice in the middle of the choir. I used to recall 
how the priest said the same prayers at Mass, and 
that I had, like him, the right to speak aloud 
before the Blessed Sacrament, to give the blessings 
and absolutions, and to read the Gospel when I 
was the first chantress. 

“I can say that the Office has been at one and 
the same time my happiness and my martyrdom, 
because I had such a great desire to recite it with¬ 
out a fault! I readily excuse the sisters who forget 
to announce a versicle or make other mistakes. 
Sometimes when the moment came for me to say 
something which I had carefully noted and fore- 


8 Gen. 2:17. 

8 The Sister who is appointed each week to officiate at the 

Divine Office. 







Novissima Verba 87 

seen, I let it pass through some involuntary dis¬ 
traction without opening my lips. 

“I do not believe, however, that anyone could 
possibly desire more than I to recite the Divine 
Office perfectly and to assist in the choir.” 

On an occasion when the Mother Prioress had asked her 
for an explanation about some forgetfulness on the part 
of the Infirmarian (an aged religious) which might have 
had serious consequences for an invalid like her, Therese 
said to me: 

“I had to tell Our Mother the whole truth, but, 
while speaking, there came to mind the thought 
of an expression more charitable than the one I 
was going to employ, although the latter was not 
a bad one; I followed my inspiration and God 
has rewarded me with a great interior peace.” 

She was asked to explain what she meant by the words: 
to remain as a little child before God. She answered: 

“It is to recognize our nothingness, to look for 
everything from God as a little child looks for 
everything from his father; it is to be disquieted 
about nothing, and not to be set on gaining our 
fortune. Even among the poor, they give the child 
all he needs until he grows up; then his father 



88 


Novissima Verba 


will no longer support him, and says to him: ‘Go 
out to work now, for you are able to look after 
yourself.’ It is to avoid hearing this that I have 
desired not to grow up, because I realized I should 
never be able to earn my own living, the eternal 
life of heaven! I have, then, always remained little, 
and have had no other occupation than that of 
gathering flowers, the flowers of love and sacrifice. 
These I have offered to the good God simply for 
His own pleasure. 

“To be little, moreover, is not to attribute to 
ourselves the virtues we practice, nor to believe 
ourselves capable of practicing virtue at all. It is, 
rather, to recognize the fact that God puts treas¬ 
ures of virtue into the hands of His little children 
to make use of them in time of need, but they 
remain always the treasures of the good God. 
Finally, to be little means that we must never be 
discouraged over our faults, for children often fall 
but they are too small to harm themselves very 
much.” 

AUGUST 7, 1897 

“Oh! how little is the good God loved upon 
earth, even by those who are consecrated to Him! 

. . . No, God is not much loved! . . .” 






Novissima Verba 89 

“Mother, if I were unfaithful, if I were to com¬ 
mit even the slightest infidelity, I feel that I would 
pay for it by overwhelming troubles, and I should 
no longer be able to welcome death. So, unceas¬ 
ingly I say to God: ‘O God, I beseech You to keep 
me from being unfaithful.’ ” 

“What type of infidelity are you referring to?” I asked. 

“• . . Of a proud thought voluntarily enter¬ 
tained, as, for example: ‘I have acquired such a 
virtue, and I know 1 possess the power to practice 
it.’ Then I should be depending on my own 
strength, and when that happens, there is risk of 
falling into the abyss. Or if I were to say: ‘My God, 
I love You so much (and You know it) that I 
would not dwell for even one moment on a temp¬ 
tation against faith,’ these temptations would then 
become so violent that I should most certainly go 
under. 

“But, on the other hand, if I am humble, I have 
the privilege of falling into little follies, without 
offending God, until the day of my death. 

“Consider the example of little children: they are 
always breaking things, tearing their clothes, or 
falling down, and all the while they are loving 
their parents very much. And so, when I fall, like a 
little child, it makes me lay the finger on my noth¬ 
ingness and my weakness, and I think to myself: 





Novissima Verba 


90 

‘What would happen to me, to what lengths would 
I go, were I to depend on my own strength?’ 

“I can well understand how St. Peter fell. Poor 
St. Peter! He relied on self instead of leaning on 
the power of God. I am sure if he had said humbly 
to Jesus: ‘I beseech You to give me the courage to 
follow You even unto death/ that courage would 
have been granted him instantly. Furthermore, I 
am certain, too, Our Lord taught no more to His 
Apostles by His instructions and by His visible 
presence than He teaches to us by the inspirations 
of His grace. He could have said to Peter: ‘Ask Me 
for the strength to accomplish what you desire to 
do.’ But no, since He destined Peter to govern the 
whole Church, in which there are many sinners, 
He willed that he should experience in himself just 
what man is without the grace of God. 

“It was for this reason that Jesus said to him be¬ 
fore his fall: ‘And thou, being once converted, con¬ 
firm thy brethren.’ 10 In other words, ‘Tell them 
the story of your fall; show them—by describing 
your own experience—the disastrous effects of rest¬ 
ing on human props.’ ” 

<£***<•> 

AUGUST 8, 1897 

I told her that later on her virtues would be recognized 
at their true value. She answered: 


10 Luke 22:32. 





Novissima Verba 


9 r 

“It is to God alone all value must be attributed, 
because there is nothing of value in my little 
nothingness.” 

“If Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin had not 
themselves gone to feasts, I should never have 
understood the custom of inviting our friends to 
a repast. It seems to me our physical nourishment 
should be taken in private, or at least within the 
family circle only. Invite our friends—yes, but 
only to converse about our travels, our remi¬ 
niscences, or for intellectual pleasures. 

“I often greatly pitied those whose duty it was 
to serve at grand dinners. If by chance they made 
some mistake, I noticed the mistress of the house 
look at them so severely, and those poor creatures 
would blush for shame. It made me ponder to my¬ 
self: ‘Oh, how well this difference existing here on 
earth between masters and servants proves there 
is a heaven where each one shall be placed accord¬ 
ing to his interior worth, where all will have 
prominent places at their Father’s banquet. And 
then, how royally we shall be served, for Jesus 
Himself has said that He will come and serve us! 11 
That will be the moment when the poor and the 


Luke 12:37. 


11 





Novissima Verba 


9 2 

little ones will be abundantly recompensed for all 
their humiliations on earth.” 


She was contemplating the heavens, and Sister Marie 
of the Sacred Heart (her sister) made this remark to her: 
“How lovingly you are looking up to heaven!” 

A little later Therese said to me: 

“When Marie said that, I thought to myself: ‘Ah! 
she believes that when I look up to the skies I am 
thinking of the true heaven, but I am, in truth, 
only admiring the material heaven: the true heaven 
is more than ever closed to me.’ I was rather 
troubled about this when suddenly I was struck by 
this thought which brought great sweetness of soul 
with it: ‘Yes, indeed, it was through love I was 
looking up to the heavens, for my soul is entirely 
enveloped with love. Therefore, all my actions, 
even the most indifferent ones, are marked with 
that divine seal.’ It was as if an interior voice sug¬ 
gested this thought to me, and immediately I was 
consoled.” 

©-S-5SW-® 

“I was thinking today of my past life, and 
especially of that courageous act on that Christmas 
long ago. . . . The praises addressed to Judith 




Novissima Verba 


93 

came to mind: Thou hast done manfully, and thy 
heart has been strengthened.' 12 

“How many souls plead: ‘I have not enough 
fortitude to accomplish such an act?' But let them 
put forth some effort! The good God never refuses 
t We first grace which imparts courage to act. After 
that, the heart is strengthened and the soul goes on 
from victory to victory.” 

august 9, 1897 

I said to her: “Our little warrior is beaten!” 

She answered: 

“I am not a warrior who fights with earthly 
weapons, but with the sword of the Spirit which is 
the word of God. 1 * So this sickness has not beaten 
me, and it was only last evening that I used my 


12 Judith 15:11. This reference to the “courageous act on that 
Christmas long ago” refers to an incident which, according 
10 the Saint, marked her “conversion.” It took place on 
Christmas morning, in the year 1886, in the Martin home. Cf. 
. Intobiography, p. 86. Here it is interesting to note that in an¬ 
other corner of France a famous conversion was taking place 
un that same day, when Paul Claudel received the gift of 
faith. It is Claudel himself who has synchronized his own 
conversion with that of little Thcrese Martin. (Translator’s 
note.) 

13 Eph. 6:17 (quoted in the Rule of Carmel). 




Novissima Verba 


94 

sword with a novice. . . . Have I not said: ‘I shall 
die sword in hand?’” 

©-Mss-© 

Someone said to her: “You are a saint!” 

“No, I am not a saint! I have never performed 
the works of the saints. I am just a little soul 
whom the good God has overwhelmed with His 
graces. You will see in heaven that what I say is the 
truth.” 

®^^^® 

AUGUST 10 , 1897 

Someone quoted and applied to her those words of St. 
John of the Cross: “Souls who have reached perfect love 
may without danger recognize their supernatural beauty.” 
She replied: 

“What beauty? I do not see my beauty at all. I 
see only the graces I have received from God.” 


Looking at a photograph of St. Joan of Arc in prison, 
she said: 

“The saints encourage me also in my prison. 
They say to me: ‘As long as you are in chains, you 
cannot fulfil your mission; but later on, after your 
death, then shall come the time of your conquest.’ ” 







Novissima Verba 


95 

“I am reminded of the words of St. Ignatius of 
Antioch: 7 , too, must be ground by suffering so as 
to become the fine wheat of God!” 

I said to her: “I prayed that you might not suffer much, 
and you are suffering very much!” 

She replied: 

“I have asked God not to hear the prayers that 
would place an obstacle to the accomplishment of 
His designs upon me. . . 


I was conversing with her about heaven, and of our 
Saviour and the Blessed Virgin, who are there in body and 
in soul. 

She heaved a deep sigh and whispered: 

“Ah. . . ” 

“That exclamation reveals how much you are suffering 
interiorly!” I said. 

“Yes! Should one who loves God and the Blessed 
Virgin so much have such thoughts! . . . But I do 
not dwell on them.” 

(She was alluding to her great interior trial of faith.) 






Novissima Verba 


96 

“I often pray to the saints without being heard. 
. . . But the more deaf they seem to be to my 
voice, the more I love them.” 

“Why?” 

“Because I have desired more not to see God and 
the saints, and to rest in this dark night of faith 
than others have desired to see all and to under¬ 
stand all.” 


AUGUST It, 1897 

“I would never ask God for greater sufferings, 
for then they would be my own sufferings, and I 
should have to bear them all alone, and I have 
never been able to do anything of myself.” 


AUGUST 12, 1897 

“Ever since that reflection I made to you the 
other day about the ear of corn, I have had very 
lowly thoughts about myself. But how great was 
this new grace which I received this morning at 
the moment when the priest began the Confteor, 
before giving me Holy Communion! 

“I beheld our Lord all ready to give Himself to 
me, and that confession appeared to me a very 



Novissima Verba 


97 

necessary humiliation: I confess to God, to Blessed 
Mary ever virgin . . . and to all the saints . . . 
that I have sinned exceedingly. ‘Oh, yes,’ I said to 
myself, ‘one does well at this moment to ask par¬ 
don for me from God and from all the saints.’ 

1 felt myself to be, like the publican, a great sinner, 
and God appeared to me as being so merciful! I 
found that address to the whole heavenly court, to 
obtain through their intercession the forgiveness of 
my sins, to be so touching. . . . Ah, I had much 
difficulty in holding back my tears! And when the 
Sacred Host rested upon my lips I was strangely 
moved. ... It was extraordinary to have had that 
experience at the Confiteor! I believe that it is the 
cause of my present disposition of soul, for I see 
I am so miserable! My confidence, however, is not 
in the least diminished because of it; quite the 
contrary. But the word miserable does not express 
what I would say, since I am enriched with all the 
divine treasures. However, it is just that which 
makes me humble myself the more. . . . When I 
think of all the graces God has bestowed upon me, 
I have all I can do not to let my tears of gratitude 
flow unceasingly. It seems to me that the tears I 
shed this morning were tears of perfect contrition. 
Ah! how impossible it is for us of ourselves to pro¬ 
duce such sentiments in our hearts! It is the Holy 





98 Novissima Verba 

Spirit who gives them, ‘who breatheth where he 
will; ” 14 

AUGUST 13, 1897 

I spoke to her of the interior lights which one some¬ 
times receives about heaven. She said to me: 

“As for me, I have only light to see my utter 
nothingness, but that does me more good than 
lights concerning faith.” 

AUGUST 14, 1897 

A most painful day for her in body and soul. I said to 
her in the evening: “You have had much suffering today!” 

“Yes, but I love it! I love whatsoever God gives 
me.” 

AUGUST 15, 1897 

I reminded her of the words of St. John of the Cross 
concerning souls consummated in Divine Love: “They die 
in the most admirable transports and in the delightful 
assaults of that love which surrounds them.” . . . She 
sighed and said: 

“You must explain that those transports and joys 
are only in the depths of my soul. ... It would 
not encourage souls if they believed that I had not 
suffered much.” 


14 John 3:8. 





Novissima Verba 


99 


She was suffering intensely from oppression. 

“I do not know what will become of me!” she 
sighed. 

“Does that disquiet you?” I asked. 
k Oh! no,” she replied. 


“I asked the Blessed Virgin last evening that I 
might not cough so that Sister Genevieve might 
be able to sleep during the night; 10 but I added: 
k If you do not do this for me, I shall love you all 
the more.’ ” 

“God gives me courage in proportion to my suf¬ 
ferings. I think at present I could not bear any 
more. But I am not afraid; for, if the sufferings in¬ 
crease, He will at the same time increase my cour- 
age.” 

AUGUST l6, 1897 

She was unable to speak, her oppression and weakness 
were so great. 

“I . . . can speak with you . . . no . . . longer! 


15 Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face (sister of Therese), 
then Second Infirmarian, slept in a cell close to the Infirmary. 





1 00 Novissima Verba 

Oh! if one only knew! ... If I did not love the 
good God!” 

AUGUST 17, 1897 

"I realize that God wills me to suffer; the reme¬ 
dies which ought to do me good, and which do 
relieve others, only make me worse.” 




I will pray for you that the Blessed Virgin may relieve 
your physical oppression.” 

“No, let them do what they will up there!” 


AUGUST 18, 1897 

“I suffer much, but do I suffer well? That is the 
important thing!” 

During recreation she said to me: 

"Mother, please read me the letter you have re¬ 
ceived for me. I denied myself the satisfaction of 
asking you about it this afternoon, so as to prepare 
for my Communion tomorrow.” 

Seeing that I took a pencil to write that down, she said: 

"Perhaps the merit of it will be lost because I 





Novissima Verba ioi 

have told you of it and you are now writing it 
down.” 

“You want to acquire merits then?” 

. . Yes, but not for myself—for souls, for all 
i he needs of the Church—in short, to scatter roses 
on the whole world, upon the just and upon the 
sinners.” 

I told her that she had been very patient. She replied: 

“I have never had patience for a single minute! 
It is not mine! You always make that mistake.” 

“How strange it would seem to you if you recovered 
\<>ur health!” 

“If it were the will of God I should be very 
happy, on the contrary, to offer Him that sacrifice. 
11 ut I assure you that it would not be a small mat¬ 
ter, after going so far, to return.” 

AUGUST 19, 1897 

In consequence of her extreme weakness she nearly 
l.iinted while listening, before Holy Communion, 10 to the 

16 That was the last Communion of her life; the handwritten 
Holes of Rev. Mother Agnes of Jesus prove that. It was through 
m error that, in the Autobiography, August 16 is given as the 
date of the last Communion of the Saint. 




102 Novissima Verba 

chanting of the Miserere , even though chanted in subdued 
tones. 

Perhaps my mind shall become unbalanced. 
. . . Oh! if one only knew what this trial is like! 
During the night, being unable to do more, I 
asked the Blessed Virgin to take my head in her 
hands, so that I might be able to support it.” 


Someone gave her her crucifix. She kissed it with ten¬ 
derness. The Christ had the head inclined. She said while 
gazing on it: 

He is dead. I like it better when He is repre¬ 
sented as dead, because then I realize He suffers no 
more.” 


She asked for a remedy and for treatments which cost 
her much distress. 

“I ask for them,” she said, “through fidelity to 
duty.” 

She still watched over the novices, and said to one of 
them: 


“One must not sit sideways on the chairs. This 
is a written law for us.” 






Novissima Verba 


103 

“I suffer only from moment to moment. ... It 
is because we think either of the past or of the 
future that we become discouraged and despair.” 


AUGUST 20 , 1897 

Someone explained how much a poor sister suffering 
from neurasthenia wearied the Infirmarian. 

She replied with animation: 

“How gladly would I have been Infirmarian to 
take care of that sister! Grace would have spoken 
louder than nature. Yes, I have a taste for that 
work. And with how much love I would have 
done it! Oh! how I should have made that sister 
happy, especially in calling to mind those words 
of Jesus: ‘I was . . . sick, and you visited me.’” 17 

She was no longer able to drink milk, which caused her 
great repugnance. I said to her: “Would you drink this 
glass for me to save my life?” 

“Oh! yes . . . and yet I would not take it for 
the love of God!” 

And then she drank it off at a single draught. 


17 Matt. 25:36. 







I0 4 Novissima Verba 

“When I suffer very much, I am glad that it is 
I and not one of you who suffers.” 


Referring to the letter of a priest who said that the 
Blessed Virgin never experienced any physical suffering, 
she said: 

“Mother, in looking at the Blessed Virgin last 
night I realized that this is not true. I understood 
that the Blessed Virgin suffered not only in soul 
but also in body. She suffered much on her jour¬ 
neys, from cold, heat, and fatigue . . . and she 
fasted much. . . . Yes, she knows well what it is 
to suffer. 

How delightful it will be to know in heaven all 
that passed in the intimacy of the Holy Family! 
How the little Jesus as He grew up perhaps told 
His Mother that He wanted to fast . . . and the 
Blessed Virgin replied: ‘No, my little Jesus, You 
are too young yet; You have not the strength for 
it.’ Or very likely she did not dare to oppose Him? 

“And good St. Joseph! How I love him! He 
could not fast on account of his work. ... I see 
him working with the plane; he wipes his fore¬ 
head from time to time. Oh, how I pity him! How 
simple their life appears to me! 

“The women of the countryside came to speak 





Novissima Verba 105 

familiarly with the Blessed Virgin. Sometimes they 
asked her to let her little Jesus go and play with 
their children. And the little Jesus looked up to 
the Blessed Virgin to see if He ought to go. . . . 

"That which does me so much good in reflect¬ 
ing upon the Holy Family is to picture it as a life 
wholly ordinary—not at all like the sort of stories 
that are told which are mere suppositions, as, for 
example, that the Child Jesus after having made 
birds out of clay, breathed upon them and made 
them live. No, the little Jesus would not have per¬ 
formed useless miracles . . . else, why were they 
not transported to Egypt by a miracle, a thing far 
more natural, and which would be so easy with 
God? In the twinkling of an eye He could have 
put them there. . . . But no, everything in their 
life was just as it is in ours. 

“And how many pains and disappointments? 
How many times people reproached good St. 
Joseph, how many times they refused to pay him 
for his work? Oh, how astonished we should be 
if we knew all they suffered!” 

“I experienced a certain pleasure in thinking that 
someone was praying for me: then I told God that 
I wished Him to apply that to sinners.” 


I 







io 6 


Novissima Verba 


You do not, then, wish that to be for your own 
solace? 


a 


No! 


>> 


AUGUST 21 , 1897 

I was on my knees praying for her and had my gaze 
nxed upon her, 

“You are sad, Mother; what for?” 

Because you suffer so much!” I sighed. 

Yes, but what peace as well! What peace!” 

I said to her: “They judged you imperfect on that par¬ 
ticular occasion when you were not understood.” With 
satisfaction she replied: 

“Oh! good; so much the better!” 

august 22, 1897 

She was suffering extremely, and in every way, and 
there was reason to fear serious complications. 

“Ah, well! That is all the better, to have much 
to suffer on every side, and to have a variety of 
maladies at the same time. It is like being on a 
journey during which we valiantly put up with 
all sorts of inconveniences, knowing well it will 




Nouissima Verba 107 

soon be over, and that once the end is attained, we 
will rejoice all the more.” 

“Oh, Mother, what would become of me if God 
did not give me His strength? . . . My hands 
alone are free. One would never believe it possible 
to suffer like this! No, it must be experienced to 
be understood. . . 

From time to time she moaned gently. Then she said to 
us: 

. . I must complain no more; it does no good. 
My little sisters, pray for me. . . 

And as we were going to kneel down, she said sweetly: 

. . No, not on your knees, but sitting 
up! . . . 

AUGUST 23, 1897 

“I have never before had such a bad night. Oh, 
how good the good God must be, since He enables 
me to bear all I suffer! Never would I have be¬ 
lieved it possible to suffer so much. And even yet 
I do not believe I am at the end of my suffering; 
but He will never abandon me!” 






100 Novissima Verba 

“You have written: 

“ ‘All that He has given me, Jesus may take back again/ 

You have been heard to the letter.” 

. . . Yes, and I do not repent of it!” 

"God does not give me the presentiment that 
death is near, but rather of much greater sufferings. 
. . . But I do not distress myself, and I only think 
of the present moment.” 

To her Infirmarian: 

"Pray much to the Blessed Virgin for me, for if 
you were sick I should pray much for you. When 
it is for oneself, one is not very bold. . . 

She had offered her sufferings for a young seminarian 
who had temptations against his vocation. He had heard 
of it, and had written a most humble and touching letter, 
concerning which she said to me: 

Oh, how much consolation that letter has 
brought me! Have you noticed what sentiments of 
humility it manifests? I see my little sufferings 
have borne some fruit. And what a joy it is for me 
to know, through that letter, in how short a time 






Novissima Verba 


109 

we are able to have so much love and gratitude for 
a person hitherto unknown! What will it be like, 
then, up in heaven, when souls shall know those 
who have been the means of their salvation?” 

She spoke to me again about the Blessed Virgin, and 
io]d me not one of the sermons she had heard about her 
had made the least impression. 

*\ . . How very glad I should have been to be 
a priest, so as to preach about the Blessed Virgin! 
It seems to me I would need only one opportunity 
to explain fully my thought on the subject. 

“First I should have shown how little is known 
of the life of the Blessed Virgin. It is not well to 
say things about her that are unlikely, or that we 
do not know for certain, as, for example, that it 
was with feelings of extraordinary fervor and on 
lire with love that at the age of three she went to 
die Temple to offer herself to God. Perhaps she 
went quite simply in obedience to her parents! 

“Again, regarding the prophetic words of the 
old man, Simeon, why insist that the Blessed Vir¬ 
gin from that moment had constantly before her 
eyes the Passion of Jesus?—‘Thy own soul a sword 
shall pierce.’ 1S You see very well, Little Mother, 


19 Luke 2:35. 







110 Novtssima Verba 

that it was a prediction of what was to come later 
on. . . 

“For a sermon on the Blessed Virgin to bear fruit 
it must manifest her real life, such as the Gospel 
has set it before us, and not her apocryphal life. 
We can well understand that her real life at Naza¬ 
reth and the subsequent years must have been quite 
ordinary. . . . ‘He was subject to them.’ 19 How 
simple that is! 

“Instead of showing the Blessed Virgin as all 
but inaccessible, we should hold her up as possible 
of imitation while practicing the hidden virtues, 
and living by faith just like us. And our proofs are 
from the Gospel, where we read, ‘They under¬ 
stood not the word that he spoke unto them;’ 20 
and again, And his father and mother were won¬ 
dering at those things which were spoken concern¬ 
ing him. ‘ That admiration implies a certain 
astonishment. Do you not find it so, Mother? 
‘How I love to sing to her: 

‘“By common lot and humble path, our Mother 
dear and holy— 


ie Luke 2:51. 

20 Luke 2:50. 

21 Luke 2:33. 






Novissima Verba hi 

Thou wast content to wal\ to heaven, and thus 
our guide to be!’ ” 

A little later she returned to the same thought. 

“We all know the Blessed Virgin is Queen of 
heaven and earth, but she is more mother than 
queen, and I do not believe (as I have so often 
heard it said) that because of her prerogatives she 
will eclipse the glory of all the saints, just as the 
rising sun blots out the light of the stars. My God, 
how strange that would be! A mother who would 
make the glory of her children disappear! I think 
quite the contrary, and 1 believe she will rather 
greatly increase the glory of the elect. 

“It is well to speak of her prerogatives, but we 
must not stop there. We must make everybody love 
her. If while listening to a sermon on the Blessed 
Virgin we are constrained to exclaim from the 
beginning to the end, ‘Ah! . . . Ah!* we are 
wearied, and that does not lead us to love and 
imitation. Who knows if some soul might not 
go so far as to feel a certain estrangement from a 
creature who is so very far superior to us. . . . 

“The unique privilege of the Blessed Virgin is 
to have been exempt from original sin and to be 
the Mother of God. And on this last point Jesus 



Novissima Verba 

has said to us: ‘Whosoever shall do the will of my 
Father, that is in heaven, he is my brother, and 
sister, and mother/ 22 

On the other hand, we are happier than she is, 
for . . . she has not the Blessed Virgin to love. 
. . . Oh, how much more is that a sweetness for 
us and how much less is it one for her. . . . Oh, 
how I love the Blessed Virgin! . . 

. . When we pray to the Blessed Virgin and 
she does not hear us, we ought to let her do what 
she pleases without insisting, and not go on tor¬ 
menting ourselves any further.” 

AUGUST 24, 1897 

I asked her if she was not disheartened. 

“No; however, it is going from bad to worse. 
With each new breath I am suffering violently.” 

She rejoined: 

“No, it is not all for the worse, it is all for the 
better!” 


22 Matt. 12:50. 










Novissima Verba 113 

august 25, 1897 

1 told her of my desire to know the date of her death. 
Mie replied: 

“Ah, for myself, I do not wish to know it. That 
1 roubles me little! In what peace I dwell!” 




One of the sisters had the habit of entering the Infir¬ 
mary every evening, and placing herself at the foot of the 
bed, she continued to smile at Therese for a considerable 
mne. Our little Saint smiled back in return. I surmised, 
however, that this indiscreet visit was fatiguing our invalid 
\ery much. When I asked her about this, she answered: 

“Yes, it is very painful to be the object of smiles 
when we are suffering, but I try to remember that 
|csus on the Cross underwent the same experience 
in the midst of His sufferings. Is it not said in the 
(iospel: ‘They blasphemed him, wagging their 
heads.’ 23 That thought helps me to offer up the 
sacrifice cheerfully.” 

“You are suffering much,” I said. “Are you dis¬ 
heartened?” 

She answered: 


23 Mark 15:29. 






i J 4 


Novissima Verba 


. . Oh, no! I am not at all unhappy. . . . 
God gives me only as much as I am able to bear.” 




I exclaimed: “My poor little one! You, too, may well 
repeat that verse of the psalm: My exile is prolonged!*” 
She said: 

“. . . But I myself do not find it long. The 
fact that I am suffering does not make it 
longer. . . 




We had been fervently praying she might have a little 
relief from her sufferings. Seeing the prayer was not 
heard, she made this comment later on: 

“Notwithstanding the sentiment [of disappoint¬ 
ment] I experienced at the first moment, I told 
the good God I love Him still more, and all the 
saints too.” 




She had been, for some days, in a state of inexpressible 
anguish. From time to time, during the period, she im¬ 
plored us to pray, and to obtain prayers for her. She cried: 

“Oh! how necessary it is to pray for the agoniz¬ 
ing! If people only knew! How necessary is that 
prayer at Compline: 'Procul recedant somnia et 
noctium phantasm at a! . . / 24 


34 Far let idle visions fly 
No phantom of the night molest. 









Novissima Verba 115 

“I believe the Evil One has obtained God’s per¬ 
mission to tempt me by such extreme suffering to 
make me lose both patience and faith.” 




She was moaning, but very gently. 

“Oh! how I am groaning,” she said. “However, 
1 would not wish to suffer less! I am ready for any- 
1 hing. . . . Abandonment is so necessary! . . . My 
hide sisters, I want you to rejoice.” 


AUGUST 26, 1897 

They had left the blessed candle burning all night. She 
observed: 

“The night has not been too bad, and that is due 
io the blessed candle.” 


Echoing her habitual disposition of soul, she said to Our 
Mother who came to give her the blessing: 

“I am glad I have not asked God for suffering, 
lor that obliges Him, so to speak, to give me the 
necessary courage. . . . ’ 








n6 


Novissima Verba 


I said to her: “It seems to me you have been made for 
suffering; your soul is tempered for it.” 

She answered: 

. . Ah, yes! I am able to bear much interior 
soul suffering . . . but as for bodily suffering, I am 
like a little child, very little. ... I just suffer from 
moment to moment, I do not think about it. 

“Mother, God’s help is so necessary when we are 
suffering so much.” 


She was suffering continually from thirst, and Sister 
Marie of the Sacred Heart said to her: “Would you like a 
little iced water?” 

And Therese let the answer escape her: 

“1 should like it very much!” 

Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart gently chided her, and 
said: “But Our Mother has ordered you to ask yourself for 
whatever you may need. Do that in obedience ” 

Therese replied: 

“I do indeed ask for everything I actually need.” 

“You only ask, then, for what is necessary, and not for 
that which might give you some relief?” she was asked. 

“No, I ask for only what is necessary /' was the 
answer. 






Novissima Verba 


ll 7 

Sometime after she had taken the drink, she was look¬ 
ing at the glass of iced water. They told her to drink a 
hide more, but the Saint answered: 

“No, my tongue is not parched enough.” 


AUGUST 27, 1897 

"I am afraid,” I said, “that your sickness might continue 
until the spring. What would you say about this?” 

She replied: 

. . Ah! well, I would say ‘so much the bet- 
ter.' M 

AUGUST 28, 1897 

Looking out the window, and pointing to a shady part 
of the garden, she said to me: 

“See, down there, at the side of the chestnut trees, 
do you see that black hole wherein nothing is dis¬ 
tinguishable? . . . Well, I am in a place like that, 
.is regards both body and soul. . . . Ah! yes, what 
darkness! But I dwell there in peace ” 

Gazing on the statue of Our Blessed Mother, Therese 
exclaimed: 

“My good Blessed Virgin, that which makes me 
desire death is the fact that I cause so much fatigue 




Novissima Verba 

to the Infirmarian. And then, too, I think that my 
little sisters are grieving to see me suffering so 
much. Yes, I should like to die.” 

The Mother Prioress and some other sisters made allu¬ 
sion to her beauty and her exterior charms, and Therese 
heard about it. She said later: 

“Ah! what does that matter to me! It means less 
than nothing to me, and only wearies me. When 
one is so near to death, she cannot find any pleasure 
in that!” 

She said to one of her novices: 

“When I am in heaven, you must often fill my 
hands with little sacrifices and prayers, to give me 
the pleasure of letting fall a shower of graces upon 
souls.” 

AUGUST 29, 1897 

I said to her: “It is very hard to suffer the way you are 
suffering, and then have no interior consolation either.” 

She replied: 

“Yes, but mine is a suffering without disquietude. 

I am happy to suffer, since God so wills it.” 





Novissima Verba 119 

1 read to her from the Mass of this Sunday the parable 
.if the Good Samaritan. She made answer: 

*\ . . I am like that poor traveler, semi-vivo, half- 
living and half-dead.” 

august 30, 1897 

I said to her: “Would you be happy if you were told 
1 hat you were to die in a few days? You would like that 
better, wouldn’t you, than to be told you were to suffer 
more and more for months and even for years?” Therese 
answered: 

“Oh, I should not be at all better pleased. The 
only thing that pleases me is to do the will of God.” 


august 31, 1897 

“Oh! I long to behold the wonders of heaven. 
Nothing on earth appeals to me any longer. . . ” 


“Ah! it is unbelievable how all my hopes have 
been realized. When I used to read St. John of 
the Cross, I would ask God to accomplish in my 
soul all that I found described therein. I begged 
I lim to sanctify me as much in a few years as if I 
had lived a long life, so that I might be rapidly 




120 Novissima Verba 

consummated in love. . . . And I have been 
heard. . . 

She told me how, in the past, in order to mortify self, 
she would try to dwell in thought on repugnant things 
during her meals. Then she added: 

. . But later on, I found it to be more simple 
to offer to the good God whatever I found to my 
taste and to thank Him for it.” 

She was quite exhausted, and exclaimed: 

“What courage I need to make the sign of the 
cross! 

“My God! . . . My God! have mercy on me. 
. . . I no longer have anything more to say than 
that.” 











September 

SEPTEMBER 2, 1897 

“Above all I have offered my interior trial for a 
relative by marriage who has not the Faith.” 

. . When we accept with sweetness the hu¬ 
miliation of having fallen into some imperfection, 
1 he grace of God returns at once. . . .” 

“Oh, yes, I desire heaven! ‘Break the web of this 
sweet encounter, O my God!’” 1 


SEPTEMBER 3, 1897 

I told her what I had heard of the triumphal reception 
given by France to the Czar of Russia. 

She answered: 

“Ah! I am not dazzled by all that! Speak to me 
of God, of the examples of the saints, and of all 
that is the truth. . . .” 

_ 

1 St. John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love , strophe I. 


121 




122 


Novissima Verba 


SEPTEMBER 4, 1897 

On being given a few mouthfuls of meat she confessed: 

“I am very glad the meat gives me the same sense 
of loathing as the rest of the food because then, at 
least, I do not find any pleasure in it.” 

“If you only knew how calm the thought of 
going to heaven so soon leaves me! It is true I am 
very happy, but I cannot say I experience living 
joy and transports of delight—no!” 

“Would you rather die than live?” I asked. 

“Oh, Little Mother, I tell you again I do not 
prefer one thing more than another. That which 
God loves best and chooses for me, that is the 
thing which pleases me most!” 

SEPTEMBER 5, 1 897 

“If someone told you that you were going to die sud¬ 
denly at this instant, would you have any fear?” she was 
asked. 

. . Not the least. With what joy I should leave 
this world,” she answered. 

“What a disappointment, then, if you recover your 
health!” 




Novissima Verba 123 

No, not at all. If I should be cured, I would 
certainly be regarded with astonishment, and then 
I would say: ‘I am quite happy to have been cured 
so as to serve God a little longer on earth, because 
such is His will. I have suffered as if about to die. 
\ cry well! I shall commence all over again another 
lime.’ ” 


I remarked to her that she seemed to suffer less while 
I was beside her. 

She answered: 

“Oh! Quite otherwise! ... I suffer much, very 
much, but it is the Blessed Virgin to whom I make 
my complaint. . . 

SEPTEMBER 6, 1 897 

Someone brought us a relic of the holy martyr, Theo- 
phane Venard, on this day. She received it with tears of 
joy. All afternoon she was particularly charming and af¬ 
fectionate. I said to her, “I have noticed that just as soon 
;is you are able, you act the same as when you were in 
good health.” 

She answ r ered: 

“. . . Ah! that is very true! Yes, when I can, I 
do my best to show myself cheerful, so as to give 
pleasure.” 






124 


Novissima Verba 


SEPTEMBER 8, 1897 

To celebrate the anniversary of her profession, someone 
brought her a bunch of wild flowers; and, moreover, dur¬ 
ing the day a little robin came into the Infirmary and 
alighted on her bed. She was sweetly stirred by these two 
little events, and explained to us the reason for her joy: 

“It is because of the delicacy of the good God in 
my behalf; outwardly I am overwhelmed with 
favors yet inwardly I am always under fire of trial 
. . . but even in this there is peace!” 


SEPTEMBER 9, 1897 

“Ah! I know well what it means to suffer!” 

SEPTEMBER II, 1897 

“I fear I have had a fear of death! But I have no 
fear of that which comes after death, and I do 
not regret leaving this life. Oh, no! I only pondered 
within myself with a sort of apprehension: ‘What 
is this mysterious separation of the soul from the 
body?’ ... It is the first time that I experienced 
anything like that, but straightway I abandoned 
myself entirely to the good God.” 









Novissima Verba 


I2 5 

“Give me, I pray you, my crucifix, so that I may 
kiss it after the act of contrition, to gain the ple¬ 
nary indulgence in favor of the souls in purgatory. 
I can no longer offer them anything more than 
that!” 

“Ought I to be afraid of the Evil One? It seems 
to me I ought not, because I do everything through 
obedience.” 


She made two crowns of cornflowers for the statue of 
the “Virgin of the Smile.” 2 One was placed at Our Lady’s 
feet and the other in her hands. I said to her, pointing to 
the latter: “You doubtless think this one is destined for 
you?” 

She responded: 

. . Oh, no! the Blessed Virgin can do what 
she likes with it. What I give to her is for her 
pleasure. . . 

A little later she repeated: 


2 The Miraculous Virgin, which had been brought down to 
the Infirmary. These two crowns have been preserved, and 
are shown today among her relics. 




126 


Novissima Verba 


“I do not long to see God upon earth. Oh, no! 
And yet I love Him! I love the Blessed Virgin 
and the saints very much also; yet I do not desire 
to see them either. I prefer to live by faith.” 


A novice, thinking to give her an agreeable distraction, 
brought her an illustrated book containing various stories; 
but she refused it, saying: 

“How could you think this book would interest 
me? I am too near to eternity to wish to distract 
myself with such trifles. . . 

SEPTEMBER 13, 1 897 

Someone brought her some violets. 

She whispered: 

“Ah, the perfume of violets! . . . M 

Then she made me a sign wishing to know if she 
might breathe their perfume without failing in mortifica¬ 
tion. 

SEPTEMBER 14, 1897 

Someone brought her a beautiful rose from the monas¬ 
tery garden. She let the leaves fall on her crucifix with 
much love and affection, taking each petal to soothe Our 
Lord’s Wounds. 







Novissima Verba 127 

“In the month of September,” she said, “the 
little Therese still lets fall the petals of the spring 
rose upon Jesus: 

“ ‘Unpetaling for thee the springtime rose 

Thus would I dry thy tears/” she murmured. 

And as the petals slipped down from her bed on to the 
floor of the Infirmary, she said: 

“Gather up those petals carefully, 3 my little sis¬ 
ters, for they will serve to give pleasure later on. 
Do not let even one be lost. . . /’ 


“Ah, now I have the hope that my exile will be 
short.” 

The doctor had told her that she would not have any 
agony, and as she was suffering more and more, she 
sighed: 

“Yet they told me that I should not have any 
agony. . . . But, after all, I am quite willing to 
have one.” 


3 One of these petals did indeed cure, in September, 1910, 
an old man named Ferdinand Aubry of cancer of the tongue 
in the hospital of the Little Sisters of the Poor at Lisieux. 




128 


Novissima Verba 


We asked, “If you were free to choose—either to have 
one or not to have one—which would you choose?” 

“I should choose nothing,” she said. 

SEPTEMBER 15, 1897 

I said to her: “When you are in heaven, your great 
sufferings of the present time will appear very small.” 

She replied: 

“Oh, even on earth I find them small 
enough. . . 

In the evening, during recreation, she said to me: 

“This afternoon I heard the reply given to a 
sister who asked for news about me: ‘She is very 
tired/ was the answer. Then I thought within my¬ 
self: ‘Yes, that is quite true. It is just that. Yes, I 
am like a traveler worn out and harassed, who 
falls down as he reaches the end of his journey. 
. . . Yes, but it is into the arms of the good God 
that I shall fall/ . . ” 


SEPTEMBER l6, 1897 

In answer to many questions I asked her, she said: 

“That which draws the light and help of God, 
in guiding and helping souls, is not to relate our 





Novissima Verba 


129 

personal troubles in order to find relief. Besides, 
in that way we do not obtain true relief; instead 
of calming ourselves, we only succeed in exciting 
ourselves.” 


SEPTEMBER 17, 1 897 

We expressed our grief at seeing her physical condition 
grow worse. 

She admonished us: 

4 \ . . Beside the sick we must always be cheer¬ 
ful! We must not lament as those who have no 
hope. ... You will end by making me regret 
life.” 

We answered, “Oh! it would not be easy to make you 
regret life/* 

Then, in a tone just a little mischievous, she answered: 

“. . . That is true. ... I only said that to 
frighten you.” 


SEPTEMBER 20 , 1 897 

The doctor had praised her heroic patience. 

She exclaimed: 

“How can he say I am patient? That is not true. 
I am always groaning, sighing, and crying all the 







Novissima Verba 


I 3 ° 

time: ‘My God, oh, my God, my strength is gone 
. . . have mercy on me—have mercy on me.’ ” 

SEPTEMBER 22 , 1 897 

I said to her: “My poor little one! How much you 
suffer, and apparently the saints have forsaken you. You 
appeal to them, and they will not come to fetch you.” 

"... Oh! I love them very much, all the same. 
But they want to see just how far I can push my 
confidence. . . 

After recalling many occasions in her religious life 
when she had been very much humiliated, I added: “Oh! 
how many times I pitied you!” 

“It was not necessary, I assure you, to pity me 
so much. I soared so far above all those things 
that I came through humiliations fortified by 
them; there has been no one more courageous 
than I before the fire. . . 


SEPTEMBER 24, 1 897 

On this anniversary of her Veiling, I had obtained the 
favor of having a Mass offered for her and she thanked 
me. But when I saw how much she was suffering, I said 
sadly: “Ah! you are not in the least relieved.” 

She answered: 





Novissima Verba 131 

“It is for my relief, then, that you had the Mass 
said?” 

“It is for your welfare ...” I replied. 

“My welfare! Without doubt, then, that is suf¬ 
fering . . 

“Very soon I shall speak only the language of 
the angels.” 

ay***® 


“Have you any intuition about your death?” 

. . Ah! Mother! about intuitions! ... If you 
only knew in what poverty I find myself. I know 
no more than you know. ... I divine nothing 
except what I see and hear. But my soul, notwith¬ 
standing the darkness, enjoys a most astonishing 
peace.” 

“You never appear to be tired of suffering, but in the 
depth of your soul are you not a little weary of it?” I 
asked. 

“Why, no! When I can bear no more, then I can 
bear no more, and that is all there is to it!” She 
smiled. 









Novissima Verba 


132 

“You will go to heaven amid the Seraphim.” 

“Ah! if I do, I shall not imitate them. They all 
cover themselves with their wings in the presence 
of the Lord . 4 I shall take good care not to cover 
myself with mine.” 

SEPTEMBER 25, 1 897 

I related to her what had been said during recreation 
concerning the responsibility of those who had charge of 
souls and who had lived a long time. 

She said to me: 

“The little ones shall be judged with extreme 
sweetness . 5 ... It is possible to remain little even 
when in the most responsible offices, and when 
living to a great age. 

“If I died at eighty years of age, if I had been 
in many monasteries and charged with numerous 
responsibilities, I should always have remained 
just as little as I am today. I am convinced of this. 
And it is written that in the end the Lord will 
arise to save all the meek and humble ones on 
earth . 0 It does not say to judge but to save.” 


4 Isa. 6:2. 

5 Wisdom 6:7. 
°Ps. 75:9. 










Novissima Verba 


133 

On one of those last days she was suffering extremely, 
and in her anguish she said to me: 

“Oh, Mother, what does it matter to write elo¬ 
quently about suffering! Nothing! nothing! One 
must have experience of actual suffering to know 
the value of such utterances.” 

I kept a rather painful remembrance of those words, 
when on this day, September 25, she appeared to recall to 
mind what she had said to me, and, gazing at me in an 
altogether singular manner, she pronounced these words: 

“I know well now that all I have said and writ¬ 
ten is entirely true. ... It is true that I have de¬ 
sired to suffer much for God, and it is true that 
I desire it still.” 

Someone said: “Ah, what you are suffering is frightful!” 

She answered: 

“. . . No, it is not frightful. A little victim of 
love can never find frightful that which her Bride¬ 
groom sends her. . . .” 

#***<•> 

SEPTEMBER 27, 1897 

One of the novices came for a few moments to the 
Infirmary. Seeing her there so calm and strong in the 
midst of such suffering, the novice exclaimed: “You are 
an angel of sweetness and patience!” 









Novissima Verba 


r 34 

“Oh! no, I am not an angel. . . . The angels 
cannot suffer; they are not as happy as I am!” 

SEPTEMBER 28, 1897 

“The air of earth fails me! When shall the good 
God give me the air of heaven? . . 


SEPTEMBER 29, 1897 

The eve of her death. During the morning she seemed 
to be in her agony. She had a painful rattling in the 
throat, and could no longer breathe. At midday she said 
to Mother Prioress: 

“Mother, is this the agony? How ought I to set 
about dying? I shall never know how to die! . . 


I read to her in French the Office of St. Michael the 
Archangel, and also the prayers for the dying. When the 
devils were referred to, she made a childish gesture as if 
to threaten them, and smilingly exclaimed: 

“Oh! Oh!” 

in a tone which seemed to say: “I have no fear of them." 











Novissima Verba 


135 


After the doctor left, she said to Our Mother: 

“Is it today, Mother?” 

Mother Prioress answered in the affirmative, and when 
we added, “The good God is very happy today,” Therese 
cried courageously: 

“And I am also happy.” 


. . If I should die just now, what happiness!” 

In the afternoon she exclaimed: 

“I am utterly exhausted! Ah! pray for me. If 
you only knew! . . .” 

To Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face, who asked a 
word of farewell, Therese whispered: 

“I have said all . . . all is accomplished! . . . 
It is love alone that counts.” 


After Matins she was enduring a veritable martyrdom, 
and, joining her hands, she murmured in a sweet, plain¬ 
tive voice: 


“Yes, my God! Yes, my God! I desire it all.” 



136 Novissima Verba 

“Are you suffering atrociously?” Our Mother asked. 

“No, Mother, not atrociously, but much, very 
much. ... I can just about bear it.” 

She begged to be left alone for the night, but Mother 
Prioress would not consent to it. Sister Marie of the Sacred 
Heart and Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face (her two 
sisters) shared together the consolation of that last vigil. 

THE DAY OF HER DEATH 

SEPTEMBER 30, 1897 

In the morning I watched beside her during Mass. She 
did not utter a single word; she was exhausted, and she 
was breathing only with great difficulty. Her sufferings, 
so I gathered, were altogether inexpressible. At one mo¬ 
ment she joined her hands and, gazing at the statue of 
the Blessed Virgin placed so as to face her bed, she said: 

“Oh! how fervently I have prayed to her! But 
it is all pure agony, without any admixture of con¬ 
solation. . , , M 

Throughout the day she lay there in torment without 
one moment’s respite. All her strength seemed spent, and 
yet, to our great surprise, she was able to move, and even 
to sit up in bed. 

She said: 

“See, Mother, what strength I have today. No, 
I am not going to die now. Perhaps months await 




Novissima Verba 137 

me yet. I do not believe it is death, but just more 
suffering for me. . . . And tomorrow it will be 
worse! 

“Ah, well, so much the better!” she sighed. 


©***(•> 

“Oh, my God! ... I love Him, the good 
God! . . . 

“Oh, my good Blessed Virgin, come to my 
aid. . . . 

“If this be the agony, what then will death be 
like? . . ” 

“Oh, Mother, I assure you that the chalice is 
full to overflowing. . . . But God is not going to 
abandon me. ... He has never abandoned me!” 

“Yes, my God, do all You will, but have mercy 
on me! . . . 

“My little sisters, my little sisters, pray for 
me! . . . 

“My God, my God, You are so good! Oh, yes, 
You are so good! I know it! . . . 







Novissima Verba 


138 

Toward three o’clock in the afternoon she fixed her 
arms in the form of a cross, and the Mother Prioress 
placed upon her knees a picture of Our Lady of Mount 
Carmel. She gazed on it for an instant, and said: 

“Oh, Mother, present me quickly to the Blessed 
Virgin. Prepare me to die well.” 

The Mother Prioress, answering, told her she had al¬ 
ways understood and practiced humility, and therefore 
her preparation had been already made. She reflected for 
a moment, and then humbly pronounced these words: 

“Yes, it seems to me that I have never sought 
anything but the truth. ... Yes, I have under¬ 
stood humility of heart.” 

She repeated once more: 

“All that I have written about my desire for 
suffering, oh! yes, it is quite true!” 

And with firm assurance: 

“I do not repent of having delivered myself up 
to Love.” 


From that moment on it seemed to he no longer she 
who was suffering. Several times, as I watched beside her, 
I was reminded of the martyrs delivered into the hands of 
the executioners, yet animated by a power divine. 

She repeated again with fervor: 










Novissima Verba 


139 

“Oh! no, I do not repent of having delivered 
myself up to Love; quite the contrary! . . 

A little later on she said: 

“I would never have believed it possible to suf¬ 
fer so much! Never! never! I can only explain it 
by my ardent desire to save souls. . . 

Then, with anguish: 

“I cannot breathe and I cannot die. . . 

But with resignation: 

“I am very willing to suffer more!” 


And later: 

“All my smallest desires have been realized. . . . 
Then the greatest of all, to die of love, must also 
be realized. . . 


Toward five o’clock in the evening I happened to be 
alone with her, when suddenly her features changed, and 
her agony began. The Community assembled in the In¬ 
firmary, and she greeted all the sisters with a sweet smile. 
She held her crucifix firmly in her hands and kept her 
eyes fixed upon it. For more than two hours the terrible 



140 Novissima Verba 

death rattle tore her chest. Her features were contracted, 
her hands purple, her feet were icy-cold, and she trembled 
in every limb. The death-sweat stood out in great drops 
on her forehead and coursed down her face. The ever- 
increasing oppression made her utter feeble, involuntary 
cries in her efforts to breathe. Thinking to moisten her 
parched lips, Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face (Celine, 
her sister) placed a small piece of ice upon them. No one 
will ever forget the look of heavenly sweetness with which 
our little Saint gazed upon “Celine” at that moment. It 
was like a sublime encouragement, a supreme good-bye. 

At six o’clock the Angelus sounded, and she raised her 
eyes pleadingly toward the statue of the Blessed Virgin. 

At a few moments after seven o’clock, thinking that 
the end was yet some way off, Mother Prioress dismissed 
the assembled Community. Therese sighed and said: 

“Oh! Mother, is it not yet the agony? Am I 
not going to die?” 

Mother answered: 

“Yes, my child, it is the agony; but perhaps the good 
God wills to prolong it for some hours.” 

She answered courageously: 

“Ah, well! ... So be it; so be it! - . - Oh! I do 
not wish to suffer less.” 

Then, looking at her crucifix: 

“Oh! ... I love Him! . . . My God! . . . I . . . 
love . . . Thee!” 







Novissima Verba 


I 4 I 

Scarcely had she uttered these words when she gently 
fell back, her head inclined a little to the right. We 
thought that all was over, and Our Mother had the In¬ 
firmary bell sounded quickly to call the Community. 

“Open all the doors,” she called (there were three 
doors leading into the Infirmary). Her words seemed to 
have a singularly solemn significance at such a moment, 
and I felt that in heaven Our Lord was repeating those 
same words to His angels in favor of His little Therese. 

The sisters came in time to kneel around the bed and 
witness that last ecstasy of the dying Saint. Her face re¬ 
gained the lily-like tint which it had possessed when she 
was in full health; her gaze, remaining fixed on high, 
irradiated and expressed such happiness as surpassed all 
her desires. She made certain movements with her head, 
as though at intervals she was being divinely wounded 
by the shafts of love. 

Immediately after that ecstasy, which lasted for the 
space of a Credo, she closed her eyes and breathed her 
last sigh. 

That was at about twenty minutes past seven o’clock. 
Our holy little Sister preserved in death an ineffable 
smile and was of a ravishing beauty. 

She held her crucifix so firmly that it was by no means 
easy to detach it from her hands, to prepare her for burial. 

Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart and I fulfilled this 
office, together with Sister Aimee of Jesus, a former In- 
firmarian, and we remarked then how very young Therese 
appeared, so that we should not have thought her more 
than a girl twelve or thirteen years of age. 

Later, on the contrary, when her body was exposed in 
the choir, her countenance assumed a very imposing ex¬ 
pression. 




1^2 Novissima Verba 

Her members remained quite supple until her burial on 
October 4, 1897. 

I should like to mention here two other circumstances 
that marked the evening of this September 30. 

During the long agony of St. Therese of the Child 
Jesus, a multitude of little birds took their station on a 
tree beside the wide-open window of the Infirmary, where 
they continued to sing with all their might until her 
death. Never before had there been such a concert in our 
garden. I was rather depressed by the contrast between 
so much suffering within and the joyous notes from 
without. 

An aged sister, who had not always completely under¬ 
stood our Therese, was touched by this incident and re¬ 
marked to me afterward: 

“Did you notice, Mother, the singing of those birds? 
I assure you that it was really extraordinary” 

Moreover, throughout the course of her sickness our 
little Saint had affirmed that an unclouded sky should 
mark the moment of her “going forth” to God. And so 
it happened, for although September 30, 1897, had been 
a dark and rainy day, nevertheless, toward seven o clock 
in the evening, the clouds all dispersed with surpassing 
rapidity, and soon the stars were scintillating in a bright, 
clear sky. 


Sister Agnes of Jesus, O.C.D. 





Appendix A* 


Letter of Our Holy Father 
Pius XII 

on the Way of Spiritual Childhood 




To Our Venerable Brother 

Francois-Marie Picaud * 1 
Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux 




Venerable Brother, Greetings and Apostolic 
Benediction. 

It was with paternal joy that We learned that the 
fiftieth anniversary of the blessed death of Saint 
Therese of the Child Jesus would be the occasion of 
a great National Congress, in the course of which 
orators of distinction would endeavor to elucidate the 
spiritual message of the little Saint of Lisieux. The 
timeliness of this message seems to have been only 
accentuated during the past half-century. We, per- 

* Appendix A and Appendix B were published by the Carmel¬ 
ite Nuns of New York in 1948 as a single pamphlet under the 
title of “Letter of Our Holy Father, Pius XII, on the Way of 
Spiritual Childhood.” It is here reprinted by the kind permission 
of Saint Anthony Guild, Paterson, New Jersey. 

1 On the occasion of the National Theresian Congress, Septem¬ 
ber 24 to September 30, 1947. 


M 3 







X44 Novissima Verba 

sonally, arc allied by so many intimate ties to her 
whom, recently, We had the happiness of giving as 
secondary patroness to your dear country that We 
hasten to send to the participants in the Congress Our 
encouragement and Our Blessing. We would even 
seize this opportunity to recall briefly how important 
it seems to Us, in the present uncertainties, that all, 
great and small, learned and ignorant, follow the ex¬ 
ample of the holy Carmelite who desired and knew 
how to live so perfectly here below as a true child of 
her Heavenly Father. 

The way of spiritual childhood, which, like so many 
other saints, she has recalled to us, is the way recom¬ 
mended in these words of the Saviour to His Apostles: 
“Amen, I say to you, unless you be converted, and 
become as little children, you shall not enter into the 
kingdom of heaven’’ (Matt. 18:3). 

Some there are who believe that this is a special 
way reserved to the innocent souls of young novices, 
to guide them in their first steps only, and that it 
does not suit persons already mature, who because of 
the great responsibilities imposed upon them must 
exercise much prudence. This is to forget that Our 
Lord Himself has recommended this way to all chil¬ 
dren of God, even to those who, like the Apostles 
He trained, have the greatest of responsibilities: that 
of souls. 

The World of Today Has Great Need 
of Understanding the Message 
of the Saint of Lisieux 

Only too often do we forget that, to see clearly 
amid the complexity of the problems which today 




Novissima Verba 


r 45 

torment humanity, we must have, together with pru¬ 
dence, that superior simplicity which gives wisdom; 
that simplicity which Saint Therese of Lisieux mani¬ 
fests to us in the most amiable manner and with that 
profound attractiveness which influences all hearts. 
The actual world, led astray by so many causes, and in 
particular by pride in its scientific discoveries, by its 
exclusive preoccupation with worldly goods, and by the 
conflict of interests resulting therefrom, is in dire need 
of understanding this message of humility, supernat¬ 
ural elevation and simplicity. 

But if we are to understand it well, we must not 
lose sight of the great wisdom of this little Saint, her 
penetrating grasp of the things of God, and her interior 
sufferings, heroically borne, which raised her to a very 
intimate union with God. We see by her life that the 
way of spiritual childhood, as she understood it under 
the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, leads souls to the 
performance of the most difficult and exalted acts; as, 
for example, to the entire offering of themselves to 
fructify the apostolate of the missions and to hasten 
the conversion of sinners. 

This spirituality reminds us of the spirituality of 
Saint Catherine of Siena and of the great Saint Teresa 
of Avila. It also reminds us of these words of the Imita¬ 
tion: “The true glory and holy joy is to glory in Thee, 
O Lord, and not in self, and to rejoice in Thy greatness 
and not in our own strength, and not to delight in any 
creature but for Thy sake” (Book III, ch. xl, 5). 

Spiritual Childhood 

This way of spiritual childhood is very lofty; never¬ 
theless, it is truly that which becomes every child of 




Novissima Verba 


146 

God, even the aged. Saint Therese of Lisieux was 
struck by the resemblances which exist between natural 
childhood and spiritual childhood, and she also keenly 
discerned their differences. 

The resemblances are obvious. Generally speaking, 
the child is simple, without duplicity and without use¬ 
less complication; he is also conscious of his weakness, 
for he must receive all from his parents. He is therefore 
drawn to believe all that his mother tells him, to have 
absolute confidence in her, and to love her with his 
whole heart. Then, in consequence, if his mother is 
Christian and often speaks to him of God, the child 
practices early in life the three theological virtues: he 
believes in God, he hopes in Him, and he loves Him, 
even before learning the written formula of the acts of 
faith, hope and charity. 

But spiritual childhood is distinguished from the 
other by maturity of judgment, supernaturally inspired 
by the interior Master. “Be not children in sense,” says 
Saint Paul, “but in malice be children” (I Cor. 14:20). 

Moreover, as Saint Therese of the Child Jesus has 
observed, and in this she follows Saint Francis of 
Sales, while the child of the natural order, as he de¬ 
velops, must learn to take care of himself, the child 
of God, on the other hand, as he advances in the order 
of grace, realizes ever more clearly that he will never 
be able spiritually to provide for himself. He under¬ 
stands that, guided by prudence, he must live in a 
docility superior to his personal activity, a docility 
which ultimately will give him entrance to the bosom 
of the Father, “in sinu Patris,” for all eternity. 

This way of childhood, if rightly understood, recalls 


Novissuna Verba 147 

to us, then, the superior simplicity of the soul that 
goes straight to God with a very pure intention. It 
emphasizes the importance of humility, which impels 
us to beg the grace of God since “without Him we 
can do nothing” toward salvation. 

Then by following this way, faith becomes more 
lively, penetrating and delectable, because God is 
pleased to enlighten those who will listen to Him; 
and hope becomes more and more trustful. It tends 
with certainty to salvation. “Certitudinaliter tendit in 
suum finem,” as Saint Thomas says (II-II, ac q. 18, 
a.4.): “Hope tends to its end with certainty.” It pre¬ 
serves us from discouragement by reminding us that 
the Lord, precisely because of our weakness, watches 
over us solicitously and loves to help those who have 
recourse to Him. Along this way, charity draws us 
more speedily to love God with our whole heart, and 
with a higher aim than that of our personal perfec¬ 
tion; to love Him purely for Himself, and that He 
may reign in souls by vivifying them and by drawing 
them mightily to Himself. 

Finally, the child of God, though simple in his rela¬ 
tions with God and with the saints, is also, under the 
inspiration of the gift of counsel, very prudent in his 
relations with those he should not trust. And though 
conscious of his weakness, he is very strong, through 
the gift of fortitude, when called upon to persevere 
in the midst of the greatest difficulties. He recalls the 
words of Saint Paul: “Cum enim infirmor, tunc potens 
sum . . (II Cor. 12:10): “When I am weak, then 
am I powerful,” for it is in God alone that I place 
my trust. 





148 Novissima Verba 

This message is first of all, in the words of Jesus, 
“revealed to little ones” (Saint Luke 10:21), who are 
thus invited to sanctify themselves by fidelity to the 
grace of the present moment in the most ordinary 
events of life, and who, by the acceptance of daily 
sacrifices, can reach constant union with God. These 
“little ones,” after having put into practice the con¬ 
tent of this message, are called upon to communicate 
it to others; to all those in need of understanding it, 
to those unaware of their own indigence and who 
would receive life more abundantly if their hearts 
were only open to it. The way of spiritual childhood 
makes us avoid the danger of that wholly natural 
and excessive “activity” which prevents interior recol¬ 
lection and prayer, thus hindering the supernatural 
fruits of sanctification and of salvation. 

Souls who understand this way have found the 
precious pearl spoken of in the Gospel; they perceive 
that the true Christian life is eternal life begun, and 
God operates in them in order to reign more pro¬ 
foundly in the minds and hearts of men. 

May the Holy Spirit grant the abundance of these 
graces to all who will take part, afar or near, in the 
coming Congress and who thus aspire to vitalize in 
personal living that truth which makes us free! 

Such are Our wishes for the supernatural success 
of these Theresian sessions. As a former pilgrim to 
Lisieux, We have preserved such profound memories 
of the sacred impressions received at the glorious tomb 
of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus so it would be 
impossible that we should not advance with all Our 
power the radiant spiritual message with which heaven 


Novissima Verba 149 

has so opportunely charged the holy Carmelite in an 
epoch having such great need of it. 

Therefore, it is with a heart filled with sweet con¬ 
fidence that We send to all the members of the Con¬ 
gress, beginning with you, Venerable Brother, and 
to all the dev»ited organizers of these commemorative 
feasts, ()m Apostolic Blessing. 

Given at < '.istclgandolfo, August 7, 1947, in the 
ninth ye.n nl < hu Pontificate. 


Pius PP. XII 




Appendix B 

At Lisieux in the Year 1937 

Just ten years before the Theresian Congress of 1947, 
our Holy Father Pope Pius XII , then Cardinal Pacelli, 
had depicted the mission of Saint Therese of the Child 
Jesus in similar terms . In the oration he delivered as 
Papal Legate at the Blessing of her Basilica in Lisieux, 
fitly 11, 1937, he said in part: 

The dazzling genius of Augustine, the luminous 
wisdom of Thomas Aquinas, have shed forth upon 
souls the rays of an imperishable splendor; through 
them, Christ and His doctrine have become better 
known. The divine poem lived out by Francis of Assisi 
has given to the world an imitation, as yet unequaled, 
of the life of God made Man. Through him, legions 
of men and women have learned to love God more 
perfectly. But a little Carmelite who had hardly 
reached adult age has conquered in less than half a 
century innumerable hosts of disciples. Doctors of the 
law have become children at her school; the Supreme 
Shepherd has exalted her and prays to her with hum¬ 
ble and assiduous supplication; and even at this mo¬ 
ment, from one end of the earth to the other, there 
are millions of souls whose interior life has received 
the beneficent influence of the little book, The Au¬ 
tobiography. 


Novissima Verba 


!5 r 

Our dear Saint had, then, good reason to say: “I 
feel my mission is about to begin. My mission is to 
give my little way to souls. . . 

Saint Therese of Lisieux had said of herself: “Lord 
Jesus, may no one occupy himself with me; may I 
be trampled underfoot, forgotten as a little grain of 
sand!” 

Forgotten! and behold, O Little Saint, on this day, 
at this very hour, the entire world turns toward you 
its thought, its attention, its prayer. And, Little Grain 
of Sand, you have incorporated to yourself so many 
other “little souls” that you are raising to the heavens 
the most magnificent of spiritual temples. . . . 

“I long to save souls,” Therese had said, “even 
after my death. ... I shall desire in heaven the same 
thing I desired on earth: to love Jesus and to make 
Him loved. I count on not remaining inactive in 
heaven. My desire is to work still for the Church and 
for souls. I have asked this favor of the good God, 
and I am certain that He will hear me.” 

The story of her admirable survival sings through¬ 
out the universe how truly God has heard her during 
these last forty years, and how He still hears her 
unceasingly. The epic poem of her apostolic conquests, 
put to music by the voice of nations, resounds from 
pole to pole. Holy Church herself has modulated the 
theme and has accelerated the time by abridging, in 
order to raise Therese to the altar, all canonical delays, 
and by proclaiming her—this little contemplative who 
died at the age of twenty-four—universal Patroness of 
the Missions. 

Ah, Little Saint, how great you are, and how nu- 




Novissima Verba 


152 

merous is your spiritual family! You are great, O 
Little Soul, Little Tabernacle of God living amongst 
us! You have become the refuge of all humanity, sup¬ 
plicating, suffering, and militant, which has daily re¬ 
course to you! 

In these hymns which ascend to you, I believe I 
hear an echo of that which Isaias chanted to the glory 
of the new Sion: ‘‘Sing forth praise, and make a joy¬ 
ful noise. . . . Enlarge the place of thy tent and 
stretch out the skins of thy tabernacle. Spare not the 
land; lengthen thy cords; strengthen thy stakes. For 
thou shalt pass on to the right hand, and to the left; 
and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and shall in¬ 
habit the desolate cities” (Isa. 54:1-3). 

Indeed every day, O Therese, do you receive legions 
of children who consecrate to you their innocence, 
virgins who imitate you in the cloister, the suffering 
for whom you win either health of body or the ad¬ 
mirable heroism of your conformity to the Will of 
Merciful Love. You sustain missionaries in the fatigues 
and disappointments of their distant apostolate; your 
picture brings your smile to them in the coldness of 
the Siberian isba and in the dampness of the straw 
hut, to the farthest confines of land and sea, even 
to the very clouds and to the heights of the firmament! 

Little temple of God, you are the vast temple of a 
humanity which you have conquered! Behold the 
tabernacle of God with men. “Ecce tabernaculum 
Dei cum hominibus.”